Manipur reigns supreme

The Manipur team, which won the overall championship.-

KOLKATA

THE north-eastern powerhouse — Manipur — is fast acquiring the status of being the national giant in sports. Proficiency in diverse sports, save for cricket, has been the hallmark of this tiny State which has been producing champions in nearly every field of sport for quite some time. The sub-junior National boxing, that saw the convergence of a record 340 boxers from across the country, reinstated Manipur on top of the event with 41 points.

The team title was a just reflection of Manipur's supremacy as its boxers won the most number of medals in the finals. Manipur collected a total of four golds and two silvers to steal the march ahead of Delhi which also won four golds but fell one short on silver to collect 34 points. Haryana, winning two golds and two silvers, remained a distant third with 27 points.

The tournament — with organiser Bengal Amateur Boxing Federation distributing the various stages of competition in three different venues — saw a total of 312 bouts starting from the first round and had a participation of 32 boards and States. Out of the total participating units, 15 filled the full quota of 12 boxers in the meet. The repeated success of Indian boxers in the international arena seemed to spur the interest resulting in the overwhelming participation. In a bid to make the best out of this, the local organiser appeared to go overboard putting the first two rounds and the quarterfinals and semifinals in open-air venues with barely any facility for holding national contests.

Though the venues — first the Municipal Corporation Stadium and then the Mandirtolla Ground in Howrah district — brought in a sizeable number of spectators supporting the organiser's idea of `spreading the sport to the grass roots', the officials and participants were put in a spot of bother by the lack of amenities and at times over-crowding. The finals were conducted in a relatively regular venue in the city — South Calcutta Physical Culture.

Shouldering Manipur's success were the foursome — L. Amarjet (28-30kg category in under-13 age-group section), L. Subam Santosh Singh (45-48kg category in the under-15 section), Paramjet Singh (45-48kg category in the under-16 section) and A. Pratap Singh (51-54kg category in the under-17) — who emphasised the State's prominence in every age-group section. The only event, which did not have a Manipur boxer winning gold was the under-14 section. The two silvers for Manipur went to K. Arundeva Sharma (33-36kg/under-16 yrs) and S. Ronel Singh (42-45kg/under-17 yrs) who lost to superior boxers in Assam's Raju Das and Surinder Singh of Punjab, respectively.

Delhi struck gold through Rahul Ganguly in the under-13 section, Dalit Pawar in the under-14 section, Rahul in the under-15 section and Himanshu Chowdhary in the under-16 section. The first three pugilists won their bouts on unanimous decisions while Chowdhary triumphed in one of the closest contests of the final. He met an able competitor in Jaiprakash Yadav of Himachal Pradesh, who matched the former blow by blow, and the five judges decided 3-2 in favour of the Delhi boxer. Andhra Pradesh deserved a special mention as both its boxers in the final — P. Sai Kishore in the 36-39kg category of the under-13 section and R. Anil Kumar in the 54-57kg category of under-17 section — triumphed. Assam too impressed as two out of its three boxers won golds while the other took the silver.

The 42-45kg category final of the under-16 section remained the best bout of the evening as it determined the best boxer and the best loser of the event. Manwar Hussain lifted the only gold for host Bengal, following a classic contest of technique and agility against a more powerful boxer in his opponent — Punjab's Iybir Singh. The three rounds of the contest between Hussain and Singh gave a good account of Hussain's technical finesse as he broke through the Singh defence landing the right blows to collect the maximum points. Singh tried to make a comeback in the final round and succeeded in redeeming a lot of the lost ground. Hussain also got a warning for keeping his head down to escape Singh who was literally raining blows on the Bengal boxer. But the Punjab boxer's bid seemed to come a bit late as Hussain was declared the winner by a split decision — 4-1.

Mayur Paygude of Maharashtra, who lost the 28-30kg category final in the under-13 section, was declared the most promising boxer of the meet. Both Andhra Pradesh and Assam deserve special mention here. Two out of the three Andhra Pradesh boxers — S. Venkatramana (33-36kg/under-14 yrs) and R. Anil Kumar (54-57kg/under-17 yrs) — won golds with powerful performances. Similarly Assam saw Raju Das (39-42kg/under-16 yrs) and M. Daniel (45-48kg/under-17 yrs) winning golds in respective finals with a good show of technical proficiency. Rakesh Arvind Kalaskar, the Maharashtra player, who is said to have never lost a bout, justified his claim winning the 42-45kg category gold in the under-16 section.

The tournament had a poignant start following the death of a 17-year-old boxer from Jabalpur, Gaurav Sonekar, in a freak accident while travelling in the train. Sonekar, a former Madhya Pradesh State champion in his weight class, leaned out of the train compartment to chat with his teammate in the next compartment when his head banged against an electric pole bring a ghastly end to the promising pugilist.

The results (finals): Under-13:

28-30 kg: Mayur Paygude (Mah) lost to L. Amarjeet (Mnp) 0-5. 30-33 kg: Abhinay Badewal (SSCB) lost to Rahul Gangully (Del) 0-5. 33-36 kg: Balvinder (Har) bt Amitesh Chandra (Utr) 4-1. 36-39 kg: Tanoj Burgohain (Asm) bt P. Sai Kishore (Pond) 4-1. 39-42 kg: Rajesh Naik (Ori) lost to Lanunhlua (Miz) Retd-I.

Under-14:

30-33 kg: Prabhdeep Singh (Pun) lost to Raju Chetri (SSCB) 1-4. 33-36 kg: V. S. Naik (Goa) lost to S. Venkatramana (AP) 2-3. 36-39 kg: Sunil Sukla (SPSB) bt Aditya Prasad (Ben) 3-2. 39-42 kg: Prahlad Kumar (Jha) bt N. Santosh Kumar (AP) 3-2. 42-45 kg: Z. D. Lalchhuanawna (Miz) lost to Dalit Pawar (Del) 0-5.

Under-15:

33-36 kg: Deepak Singh (UP) lost to Rahul (Del) 0-5. 36-39 kg: S. Solanki Sunder (Jha) bt Manish Kandpal (Utr) 4-1. 39-42 kg: Karan Chhetri (Aru) bt S. B. Pandey (SPSB) 3-2. 42-45 kg: Dhiraj Burman (Ben) lost to Rakesh Arvind Kalaskar (Mah) 0-5. 45-48 kg: Akshay Kumar (Del) lost to L. Subam Santosh Singh (Mnp) 1-4.

Under-16:

39-42 kg: K. Arundeva Sharma (Mnp) lost to Raju Das (Asm) 1-4. 42-45 kg: Manawar Hussain (Ben) bt Iybir Singh (Pun) 4-1. 45-48 kg: Santosh Dom (Ben) lost to Paramjeet Singh (Mnp) 0-5. 48-51 kg: Chotelal (Mah) lost to Hemant Kumar (SSCB) 0-5. 51-54 kg: Mahendra Siromani (UP) lost to P. Mohit (MP) 0-5. 54-57 kg: Jaiprakash Yadav (HP) lost to Himansu Chowdahry (Del) 2-3. 57-60 kg: Dinesh Kumar (Har) bt Parminder Singh (Pun) RSC-III.

Under-17:

42-48 kg: S. Ronel Singh (Mnp) lost to Surinder Singh (Pun) 2-3. 45-48 kg: M. Daniel (Asm) bt Ajit Singh (Aru) 3-2. 48-51 kg: Sunny Kumar (SPSB) bt H. K. Jawhly (Miz) 3-2. 51-54 kg: A. Pratap Singh (Mnp) bt Johnson Decruz (Jha) 3-2. 54-57 kg: Sandeep Singh (Har) lost to R. Anil Kumar (AP) 0-5. 57-60 kg: Narender Sangwan (Har) lost to Narender Utprt (AIEB) 1-4.

Team positions: 1. Manipur 41 points; 2. Delhi 34 points; 3. Haryana 27 points.

Amitabha Das Sharma