Chhote Lal makes it big

Chhote Lal, the victor, lands a left on Mishal Lakhra in the featherweight final.-PICS: MOHAMMED YOUSUF

Chhote Lal emerged the Best Boxer, while Railways pipped Services for the team title. Abhijit Sengupta reports.

Boxers from the Railways and the Services hogged the limelight in the Sahara 56th Senior National Championship for men, which was conducted at the Saroornagar indoor stadium in Hyderabad. Clearly a cut above the rest, these two outfits fought it out for the team title and Railways managed to edge out Services by just two points to lift the trophy.

In the individual section, Chhote Lal of Services emerged the Best Boxer of the championship. This 21-year-old retained his featherweight title with a commendable display of aggression coupled with accuracy and speed. With a flurry of powerful punches he forced his opponent, Mishal Lakhra, to take a standing count in the very first minute. Lal continued his assault in the second round and led 8-1 before the referee stopped the contest.

In the lightflyweight category, Nanao Singh fulfilled expectations as he gave Services its first gold on the final day. The 19-year-old Nanao is already an experienced international and has won a gold at the inaugural AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships, a silver in the Asian Championships and a gold at the Commonwealth Youth Games.

Nanao hails from Khoijuman village, which is about 35 kilometres from Imphal. Son of a farmer, he took to boxing at an early age, inspired by the lineage of boxers that Manipur has produced. He joined the Manipur Amateur Boxing Association’s camp at the age of 10 and made rapid progress thanks to his tremendous talent. In the final of the Nationals, he had little difficulty in scoring a 9-3 win over Paramjeet Singh of Chandigarh. Although there was a brief spell when Paramjeet managed to reduce the margin to only two points in the second round, Nanao regained his rhythm and won comfortably.

In the flyweight category, Asian champion Suranjoy Singh despatched Santosh of Goa 6-0. Suranjoy was able to nullify the longer reach of his opponent by coming close and punching quickly.

Suranjoy is another boxer from India who has made it big and is expected to cement his place on the world stage in future championships. A former Junior World Cup bronze medallist, Suranjoy had recently won a gold in the Asian Championship in China and he gave ample evidence of his class during the National Championships.

Quick footwork and a formidable array of fast combination punches were the hallmarks of his display. Chief coach Sandhu was all praise for the way Suranjoy has progressed in his career.

The triumphant Railways team.-

Among the other bouts which drew attention was the bantamweight final, which was very well contested. In the third round, Haryana’s Kuldeep Singh, who was in the lead, was floored by a hard punch from Santosh Singh of Jharkhand. Kuldeep made it to his feet unsteadily and he had to take the mandatory eight-second standing count. The Jharkhand camp was all excited as a knock-out seemed to be in the offing. But Kuldeep managed to recover and win 7-3.

In welterweight, Dilbagh picked up his eighth National title when he defeated Vijay of Haryana 5-2.

In middleweight, Kuldeep Singh of the Railways was too fast and powerful for his opponent, Kulwant Singh of the Services. After leading 1-0 in the first round, Kuldeep increased the margin to 6-0 in the second round before winning handsomely at 15-4.

In the bantamweight semifinals, Karnataka’s V. D. Rao put up a brave display against Kuldeep of Haryana. In the first two rounds, both the boxers adopted a defensive approach and Kuldeep could establish only a slender 4-2 lead. It was only in the third round that both began attacking more frequently and Kuldeep managed to take advantage of chinks in his opponent’s defence to score a 10-5 victory.

In an interesting lightweight semifinal, Vikas Malik of RSPB came back from a 3-4 deficit at the end of the second round, to eventually win 10-4 against Balbir Singh of BSF.

THE RESULTS All finals:

Lt. fly (48 kg): Nanao Singh (SSCB) bt Paramjeet Singh (Chd) 9-3.

Fly (51 kg): Suranjoy Singh (SSCB) bt Santosh (Goa) 6-0.

Bantam (54 kg): Kuldeep Singh (Har) bt S. Santosh Singh (Jha) 7-3.

Feather (57 kg): Chhote Lal (SSCB) bt Mishal Lakhra (Jha) RSC 2nd round.

Light (60 kg): Vikas Malik (RSPB) bt Rakesh Kalaskar (Mah) 2-2 — on count-back.

Lt. welter (64 kg): Pradeep Kumar (Del) bt Balwinder (Har) 4-1.

Welter (69 kg): Dilbagh Singh (RSPB) bt Vijay (Har) 5-2.

Middle (75 kg): Kuldeep Singh (RSPB) bt Kulwant Singh (SSCB) 15-4.

Lt. heavy (81 kg): Pramoj Kumar (Har) bt Vikas Singh (Del) 12-3.

Heavy (91 kg): Manpreet Singh (SSCB) bt Krishan Kumar (AIP) 20-6.

Superheavy (over 91 kg): Paramjeet Singh (RSPB) bt Naresh Singh (SSCB) 8-2.

Team championship: 1. Railways (RSPB) 47 pts, 2. Services (SSCB) 45 pts, 3. Haryana 33 pts.

Best Boxer: Chhote Lal (SSCB); Best Loser: Rakesh Kalaskar (Mah); Most promising boxer: S. Santosh Singh (Jhk).