Indian Army wins overall championship

M. C. RAMAN

THE Federation Cup boxing championship is fast turning into a ritual. Chennai has hosted all but one edition of this major event and the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) has not done anything to improve the quality of the event in the last five years. The seventh edition, hosted by a club for the first time in the history of the sport, Madras Friends Boxing Academy, in Chennai met with the same fate, without the leading pugilists of the country.

The Indian Army team which won the overall title.-K. PICHUMANI

The competition seems to be only for those who have been discarded for the National Championship by their States and those who fail in the early stages of that event. It is for this reason that there is no bidder for the tournament, and the Tamil Nadu Association has made it a permanent fixture in its calendar.

The prolonged coaching camps keep the best pugilists away from such major events. And the spectators are invariably disappointed. Even the hosts find it difficult to get sponsors without some prominent participants. This is one major problem that has to be tackled by the IABF.

Luckily for the organisers, the BSNL offered to be the main sponsor and the championship was conducted without any hitch. It was for the first time that the BSNL had helped the boxing championship financially. It was also for the first time that the tournament was conducted at the Mayor Radhakrishnan Stadium to draw more spectators. As the organisers wanted to restrict the number of entries the number of events was brought down to 10 and the number of entries for each State or institute to just eight. They had only three days to complete the bouts. The Southern Railway squad which was expected to take part pulled out to prepare for the inter-Railway championship.

The Indian Army joined the fray at the last moment and this made the hosts happy and the event competitive. As the Railway team had withdrawn, it was left to the Chiranjeevi-trained Andhra boxers to challenge the physically-fit Services men. The Army, Andhra, Tamil Nadu and Haryana pugilists figured prominently till the semi-final stage. A few from Delhi, Maharashtra and CISF were also around. However, the title race was only between Army and Andhra. At one stage in the finals they tied with three gold medals each. But in the crunch situation it was the armymen who managed to perform better and won five gold medals.

The Army had tremendous advantage both in the light and heavy classes. The team's Santosh Kumar, who won the light-welter gold, bagged the 'Best Boxer' award for heavy categories. Andhra performed better in light classes than in heavy, capturing both the light fly and fly gold medals to make a headstart.

However, one boxer who drew the attention of everyone on the final day was Tamil Nadu's D. Srinivasan, a school student, who won his second gold within a short period. He clinched the gold medal in the Southern India championship in Chennai two months ago. In this championship, he fought extremely well against Benjamin Siddi, a prominent boxer of the Services, and won the semi-final. This itself was a big achievement for the 10th standard student. In the final, Srinivasan got the better of Mohan Singh of Assam Rifles for the feather gold. This was the lone gold for Tamil Nadu.

Sandeep Kumar and Sundai Raju gave Andhra a fantastic start, winning the light fly and fly titles. Prakash Gurung, Chananda Kuttappa, a stocky man with hard punches, Santosh Kumar, G. Periyar and Harijinder Singh, a junior international who was not very impressive in victory, put the Army ahead by winning gold medals.

Srinivasan did the host proud by winning a gold medal and Sashi Kumar Thappa helped Assam Rifles to bag one gold. Ranjit Emani won the welter title to enable Andhra collect its third gold.

Indian Army won the overall championship with 33 points. Andhra came second with 25 points and Assam Rifles third with 17 points.

The results (all finals):

Lt. fly: Kaleem Ahmed (TN) lost to J. Sandeep Kumar (AP) 4-1 verdict; Fly: Sundai Raju (AP) beat S.K. Thappa (Assam Rifles) 5-0; Bantam: Shyam Babu Pal (CISF) lost to Prakash Gurung (Army) 3-1; Feather: D. Srinivasan (TN) beat Mohan Singh (AR) 5-0; Light: Chananda Kuttappa (Army) beat Santosh Avhad (Maha) RSC IV; Welter: Praveen Sharma (Har) lost to E. Ranjit Emani (AP) RSC IV; Lt. Middle: Md. Rasheed (AP) lost to G. Periyar (Army) 4-1; Middle: Vivek Kumar (Har) lost to Sashi Kumar Thappa (AR) retd. II round; Lt. heavy: Harjinder Singh (Army) beat Anand Singh (CISF) 5-0.