Boxers ready to throw a punch or two

Several boxers have pointed out the flip side of restricted training, ranging from the lack of sparring partners to maintaining discipline at home.

“Training at a camp is a better option. Even without sparring (due to the lockdown restrictions), you get that extra motivation to work hard because of the environment,” said Asian silver medallist Kavinder Bisht.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

Stranded at his sister’s place in Dehradun, Asian silver medallist Kavinder Bisht had to rely on a digging bar and a 20-litre water can to do weight training and other exercises during the lockdown. When he got to know of inter-state travel relaxations, Kavinder grabbed the opportunity to reach the camp at the Air Force Station near Bengaluru and resume his training.

Not just Kavinder, but every boxer, whether from the elite level or age group, has faced challenges in training during the nationwide lockdown owing to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Training at a camp is a better option. Even without sparring (due to the lockdown restrictions), you get that extra motivation to work hard because of the environment,” said Kavinder.

Some of the boxers such as Simranjit Kaur and Manish Kaushik, who have qualified for the Olympics, were lucky to have a few equipment and sparring partners, but the level they wanted to achieve for a full-time boxer was not there in the relaxed environment at home.

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The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) led the way by organising online coaching and monitoring for the boxers, but that was just to keep them active and in shape.

“We gave the boxers a programme and they sent us 20 to 30 second training videos, but it was difficult to gauge the intensity of their training. One could not make out how much they were running, how they were doing the repetitions and whether they were sticking to the diet plan. For example, boxers like Vikas (Krishan), Amit (Panghal) and Ashish (Kumar) had weight management issues,” said national coach C. A. Kuttappa.

“Even those who have brothers to train with were not able to do things properly as the partners did not know what and how to do things. The level of the campers and their intensity is always different as they do things correctly. Besides, the volume is more,” Kuttappa explained.

Several boxers, including six-time world champion M. C. Mary Kom and the Olympic-qualified Pooja Rani Bohra, have gone on record pointing out the flip side of restricted training, ranging from the lack of sparring partners to maintaining the level of training and discipline at home.

Ankit Narwal, 17, an Asian youth silver medallist, feels that he is losing out on valuable time. “Even though I stay close to the National Boxing Academy in Rohtak, I cannot train there as it is closed. I am doing a lot of fitness training and shadow boxing but cannot work on the technical side due to the lack of a partner and absence of sparring,” said Narwal.

“I would have tried to win medals in the Asian youth and World youth championships but it seems I cannot achieve my target this year.”

“We gave the boxers a programme and they sent us 20 to 30 second training videos, but it was difficult to gauge the intensity of their training. One could not make out how much they were running, how they were doing the repetitions and whether they were sticking to the diet plan. For example, boxers like Vikas (Krishan), Amit (Panghal) and Ashish (Kumar) had weight management issues,” said national coach C. A. Kuttappa.   -  Special Arrangement

 

Virender Kumar, Narwal’s uncle who has seen the youngster train, is disappointed. “Ankit is a hard working boy. I can feel for him. He is losing out on crucial time during his growing years,” said Virender.

Youth coach Jaydev Bisht agreed that promising boxers would be affected due to the lockdown. “The rhythm breaks due to the lack of continuity. Good that the BFI is conducting online classes, but there is no substitute for practical training,” said Bisht.

Roland Simms, the boxing coach at the Inspire Institute of Sport (IIS) in Vijayanagara, prefers the camp atmosphere for boxers even though he is not too fussy about the lack of sparring for youngsters.

“I’m not too big on sparring, especially with developmental boxers that we work with at IIS. At the middle and lower levels of development, I do not believe in a whole lot of sparring because I don’t like boxers getting hit,” said Simms, who oversees training of several young boxers and some elite ones, including Sanjeet and Manisha Moun.

Top boxers like Vikas and Ashish have also shown interest to train under Simms till the time the National camp resumes.

With nine boxers already qualifying for the Olympics, the BFI is keen to resume the National camp. It had proposed to begin the camp at Patiala on June 10. However, its efforts did not bear the desired result due to clearance issues. The federation is working to restart the camp in the first week of July, but there is a bit of uncertainty due to factors beyond BFI’s control.

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“We want to begin the camp with the Olympic-qualified boxers. We will follow the government guidelines and see the progress before opening the camp for others by the first week of August,” said BFI executive director R. K. Sacheti.

“We have done everything possible to keep all the boxers at all levels active in the last three months. The online videos are streamed live on bookmyshow.com and anyone can access those free of cost. We have held classes on medical, physio, nutrition and anti-doping and covered all possible angles. We even held programmes for referee-judges and zonal development.

“The aim is to begin camps as soon as possible so that our boxers can get back to their normal training mode. In Europe and elsewhere, boxers have started training and the International Boxing Association (AIBA) has put out the revised schedule for this year with events starting from August. We cannot be wasting time from now on,” said Sacheti.