Railways — the lord of the ring

D. Rajesh of Tamil Nadu (right) connects one to Vikrant Kalosia’s head. The Tamil Nadu boxer was voted the ‘best loser’ of the championship.-Pics: S. S. KUMAR D. Rajesh of Tamil Nadu (right) connects one to Vikrant Kalosia’s head. The Tamil Nadu boxer was voted the ‘best loser’ of the championship.

The Federation Cup, which also featured some of the top class women boxers, turned out to be a great success. K. Keerthivasan reports.

D. Rajesh

Rain, no doubt, disrupted the schedule of the Federation Cup Boxing Championship, held in a makeshift ring inside the SRM University Campus at Kattankulathur, near Chennai, but Leny D’Gama, secretary of the ring official commission for the tournament, took advantage of a break to give the officials strict instructions.

“You are not teachers to say what is right or wrong to the boxers. Your job is to point out the fouls,” he told them. D’Gama was strict and fair in his dealings with the referees and judges. Talking to Sportstar later, he said: “We have a new software with which every judge’s decision is fed into the computer and the cumulative average is taken to decide the winner.

If a judge is incompetent, it will show in his judgement. We have taken action against some judges who we felt were biased or not good enough.” However, the SRM-Federation Cup, which also featured some of the top class women boxers barring Padma Shri M. C. Marykom, who has won the World title thrice, turned out to be a great success. And this was largely because of the SRM Group of educational institutions, which has committed to sponsoring the tournament for the next three years.

The IABF (Indian Amateur Boxing Federation) has informally given permission to SRM to sponsor the Federation Cup and the Tamil Nadu Amateur Boxing Association to conduct the event. In all probability, the forthcoming editions of the championship could see the tournament being held indoors. The IABF, it appears, is very particular on this aspect.

The men’s section did not feature the top Indian boxers as they were in the National camp preparing for international tournaments. On the distaff side, top-notch boxers such as the World Championship gold medal winner last year and six-time National champion, K. C. Lekha, internationals Sarita Devi, Ashwati Mol, Ashwati Prabha and N. Usha added glitz to the field.

However, most of the bouts in the women’s section lacked intensity as the top boxers faced little resistance. The men’s section bouts were a tad better. “There is no ring craft. And the boxers don’t use their knuckles properly. When you land a punch, the opponent should feel the effect and for that a boxer should use his knuckles. It is not happening here,” observed V. Devarajan, a bronze medal winner at the World Cup.

Held for the first time for women, the Federation Cup offered the up and coming boxers a big opportunity to show their skills. Tamil Nadu’s G. Parveen was one of those who grabbed the chance to prove her mettle. In the light bantam semifinals, she went down fighting to Sushma Kumari of the Railways.

A bronze medallist at the Guwahati National Games, Parveen fought hard till the second round. Gasping for breath, she took a mandatory count, and minutes before the final round was to end, the referee stopped the contest. Parveen, however, was adjudged the ‘best loser’.

D. Rajesh of Tamil Nadu too impressed. With quick movements and sharp reflexes, Rajesh has the potential to become a top contender in the National arena. He, however, has a lot to learn. Being patient is one of them.

Unlike the men, the women boxers have improved by leaps and bounds in a short time. Ever since the first women’s Nationals was held in Chennai in 2001, a lot of pugilists have gone on to make their mark on the world scene. Prominent among them is Manipur’s Sarita Devi, who was declared the ‘best boxer’ in Chennai.

Sarita Devi of Manipur (left) pounds Ambika (RSPB) in the women’s featherweight semifinal. Sarita was declared the ‘best boxer’ of the tournament.-

According to India’s assistant coach D. Chandralal, Sarita is one of the most hardworking and dedicated boxers in the country. With only three boxers in her weight category, Sarita received a bye to the feather weight final where she outclassed Ambika of the Railways just 30 seconds into the bout.

Satyaraju of Jharkhand put it across international Vikas Malik (RSPB) in the light welter final. Outwitted in the first two rounds, Malik fought back in the third, throwing punches and catching Satyaraju off-guard. But the Jharkhand boxer came out unscathed in the end, winning 40-33.

The Railways dominated the championship, bagging the overall titles in the men’s and women’s sections.

Tamil Nadu’s lone gold medal came through Soniya, who defeated Jerina of Manipur in the pin weight final. The host also claimed five bronze medals.