Quality fare on display

FORMER Olympians, promising and upcoming youngsters and one debutant in the boxing ring all gathered at Colva, Goa to dish out an exciting fare in the first Goa International boxing championship.

D. RAVI SHANKAR

The India Red side posing with the team trophy. -- Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

FORMER Olympians, promising and upcoming youngsters and one debutant in the boxing ring all gathered at Colva, Goa to dish out an exciting fare in the first Goa International boxing championship. While some critics may carp and say the squads were truncated, the reality was that there was some quality boxing on display.

The Goa Amateur Boxing Association has much to gripe about with India's top boxers preferring to give the event a go by. Ali Qamar, Jitendra, Dingko Singh and Diwakar Prasad had opted out while Khemanand Belwal pulled out at the eleventh hour. Thailand arguably Asia's top boxing country promised to participate and cancelled after the ticketing was done resulting in the organisers losing money. Afghanistan landed in Delhi and requested arrangements for flight tickets to Goa hours before the start of the tournament and a Philippines official was an embarrassment with contraband material at the airport. With all these `tensions and headaches' along with threats of heavy rains the very start of the event was in doubt.

Harry Tanamor of Philippines, who was adjudged the best boxer of the tournament. -- Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

Another splintering of the teams was caused with Pakistan hosting within a couple of days after the Goa event, the annual Greenhill Cup and with Prof.Anwar Choudhary at the helm of affairs at the International level, Thailand as well as some other countries understandably reserved their best for that event.

However things turned out fine in the end. The Philippines boxers produced some exciting bouts as did the Hungarians and the Indians. The rains stayed away till the completion of the last bout after which the skies opened up with torrential showers.

The line-up for the tournament was country wise — Afghanistan with six boxers, Bangladesh five, Hungary three, India 31, Nepal two, Philippines six, Qatar four, Singapore one and Sri Lanka two.

Suresh Singh is overwhelmed by the reaction to his victory over Filipino Parrenas Arlfo in the flyweight final. -- Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

The event produced thrilling events on all five days. During the semi-finals and finals however, the cream of the boxers surfaced and the most impressive of the lot were, Harry Tanamor, Junard Ladon and Lerio Arlan from Philippines, Balog Vilmos from Hungary from the International Countries and from the Indian squads, boxers to impress were Suresh Singh, Vijendar, Parvinder Singh, Harpreet Singh, V.Johnson and Harpal. Among the losing Indian finalists, Soranjoy Singh and Bijendar showed plenty of courage and pluck losing marginally on points.

For Singaporean kickboxer Mohammed Suherman getting into the boxing ring for a competition for the first time in his life, it was a learning experience. Asked to exhibit immense restrain and not to resort to kickboxing tactics by his coach Balasundaram, Suherman covered his face with his gloves and allowed his rival in the semi-finals, Parminder Singh, to make some exploratory jabs. Suherman managed to land just one punch to Parminder's body which shook him up. Parminder was rattled and unleashed two thundering hooks which saw Suherman wave the white flag.Despite a 45 second end to the bout, Suherman was encouraged to continue boxing receiving an award for the most promising boxer for the day.

All the eleven competitive bouts for the final day produced high voltage excitement. Soranjoy Singh and Harry Tanamor fought a pitched battle with boxers landing crashing hooks and crosses upon each other. The referee/judges had a tough time keeping the score and Soranjoy's late charge in the third and fourth rounds saw him go down marginally on points to his rival Harry Tanamor who was crowned the `best boxer' of the tournament.

Vijendar (right) is about to land a punch on F. Lournic (Phi) in the light welterweight title bout, which the Indian won. -- Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

With bouts not being scheduled on progressive weight categories, the second final was in the heavyweight category between V. Johnson of India and Ahmed Zia of Afghanistan. Johnson demoralised the Afghan with a stylish display. Running up a number of points, Johnson was on target with a solid uppercut which had Ahmed Zia taking the mandatory count. Zia was unable to continue the bout after that mighty punch. Suresh Singh showed marked improvement on his semi-final bout and was too good for Parrenas Arlfo of Philippines in the Flyweight final.

Suresh who had turned out for the Sydney Olympics for India was on a comeback trail and he impressed his coach G.S Sandhu immensely. Suresh after conceding some points managed to lead after the first round and was in total control in the next three rounds. Parrenas on the retreat in the third and fourth rounds was unable to bridge the margin of points Suresh had collected and bowed to a superior boxer ultimately.

Lightweight Jai Bhagwan Singh used his bout against compatriot Ranjit Singh as a warm up fixture. Going easy on the punishment Jai Bhagwan Singh clinched the bout at 23-5.

Parvinder Singh was high on morale after beating Singaporean Suherman in the middleweight semi-final. His rival from Hungary was declared the best boxer after his semi-final over Kanta Singh. But Parvinder took the upperhand in the final bout and slowly but steadily built up a fair lead on points. The Indian opened up a cut on Imre's upper right eye and saw the injury swell by the fourth round. Imre made a belated charge in the final round but was clearly outpunched by Parvinder. Imre won the `best loser' award of the tournament.

Harpal Singh (blue) beat Jitendar Singh in the super heavy final. -- Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

Lerio Arlan of Philippines and Bijendar Singh of India displayed excellent fighting qualities in the Bantamweight section. The Filipino clearly more experienced than Bijendar collected his points on hit and run tactics. Arlan would make a charge, land a few punches and then escape with lateral movements. Bijendar closed the gap in points in the third round but Arlan stayed ahead to win on points. Bijendar was chosen as the `most promising boxer.'

Hungarian Balog Vilmos was one of the impressive boxers of the tournament. His clash with Indian V. Lavi had the makings of a great contest especially since Lavi upstaged Nawaf Mohammed Bennur of Qatar in the semi-final. Vilmos however had watched his opponent closely during the semi-final and knew how to keep out of the range of Lavi's attempted hooks and uppercuts. Vilmos effected some powerful blows on Lavi's head and body and twice had the Indian getting the count of eight. By the middle of the third round the Hungarian had a huge lead on points (over 20) and the referee stopped the contest with Lavi being outscored.

Junard Ladon of Philippines gave a solid pounding to Naveen Dev of India in the feather weight section and the latter lost with the jury declaring that he was outscored in the third round. Harpal Singh also had a similar result being too good for compatriot Jitendar K Singh. Light welterweight Vijendar of India impressed while beating F. Lournic of Philippines. Here too the referee stopped the bout in the third round.

Indian Harpreet Singh displayed tremendous fighting qualitites outpointing Istvan Szucs of Hungary in the light heavyweight class. The bout was a low scoring one with both boxers being cautious and Harpreet had a four-point lead after the end of the fourth round.

Parvinder outpointed Szello Imre of Hungary in the middleweight category. -- Pic. G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR-

The results: Light fly: Soranjoy Singh (Ind R) lost to Harry Tanamor (Phi) 28-34; Fly: Parrenas Arlfo (Phi) lost to Suresh Singh (Ind R) 14-22; Bantam: Bijendar Singh (Ind R) lost to Lerio Arlan (Phi) 23-29; Feather: Junard Ladon (Phi) bt Naveen Dev (Ind B) RSC/OS 3rd round; Light: Ranjit Singh (Ind B) lost to Jai Bhagwan Singh (Ind R) 5-23; Lightwelter: F. Lournic (Phi) lost to Vijendar (Ind R) RSC/OS 3rd round; Welter: Balog Vilmos (Hun) bt V. Lavi (Ind G) RSC/OS 3rd round;Middle: Parvinder (Ind R) bt Szello Imre (Hun) 21-14; Lightheavy: Istavan Szucs (Hun) lost to Harpreet Singh (Ind R) 10-14; Heavy: Ahmed Zia (Afg) lost to V. Johnson (Ind R) retd 2nd round; Superheavy: Jitendar K Singh (Ind B) lost to Harpal Singh (Ind R) RSC/OS 3rd round.

Team: Winner: India Red (47 pts), Runner-up: Philippines (18), Third place: Hungary (11 pts).