World Youth Boxing Championship: Packing a wallop

The Indian girls live up to their potential in the World Youth Boxing Championship, winning five gold and two bronze medals to take the top place, Now, the real challenge for them is in making a smooth transition to the elite level.

India’s Sashi Chopra gets emotional after winning her 57 kg bout against Hong Ngoc of Vietnam in the World Youth Championship in Guwahati. And congratulating her is Indian boxing’s High Performance Director Raffaele Bergamasco.   -  AP

India’s unprecedented success in the World Youth Women’s Boxing Championship, where the country finished with five gold and two bronze medals to take the top place, drove home the importance of doing the right things at the right time. The significance of this performance can be gauged from the fact that India had last won gold medals in the inaugural edition of the event in Antalya, Turkey, in 2011 where Sarjubala Devi (48 kg) and Minu Basumatary (64 kg) had secured the top honours.

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The Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati became a favourite hunting ground for Indian boxers, while two of them, Anupama (81 kg) and Neha Yadav (+81 kg), entered the medal bracket without even fighting a bout. However, the host nation’s focus was on the lower weight categories where it had several talented boxers who had made the most of the exposure trips, such as the Ahmet Comert international tournament in Turkey and the Balkan youth international event in Bulgaria, and won medals.

Sakshi Chaudhary is declared the winner of the 54 kg final against Ivy-Jane Smith of England. Sakshi’s sound technique and never-say-die spirit stood her in good stead.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

 

Training with a foreign expert, Raffaele Bergamasco, has also enhanced the skills of the boxers. “These girls are very good. In five months they showed good improvement,” said the Italian.

Bergamasco overcame the language barrier to teach the girls the nuances of boxing. “I worked on their footwork, on shadow boxing and angles. When we did gym work, I asked someone to play the music and everybody was surprised. It is difficult to work in the gym for two hours just like that. When you put on music, you dance through your workout,” he said.

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Bergamasco’s training method worked wonders, as the girls displayed fine ring craft to surprise opponents from strong boxing nations like Russia, Kazakhstan, Italy, England and Turkey.

“We can feel the difference in our game after working with the Italian coach. His training methods have been beneficial,” said Sakshi Chaudhary, who added the World youth title to her World junior crown.

“The exposure trips also helped, as we gathered experience, got the hang of our opponents and became more confident,” she added.

India’s Nitu (red) lands a punch to the face of Zhazira Urakbayeva of Kazakhstan in their 45-48 kg final. Nitu displayed a level-headed approach to win the crown.   -  PTI

 

While Sakshi (54 kg) excelled because of her sound game and never-say-die spirit, Nitu, who displayed a level-headed approach to win the 48 kg crown, was the real surprise.

“Nitu, for me, is a surprise. A very young girl and inexperienced, but she is a smart boxer. She does not speak much but focuses on her work,” said Bergamasco.

Another boxer who caught everyone’s attention with her excellent skills was Shashi Chopra. With her long reach and effortless movement, the lanky boxer went on to win the 57 kg title.

Ankushita Boro, who was declared the Best Boxer of the meet, poses with the trophy and the gold medal. With a fine all-round game and backed by a massive support from the home crowd, Ankushita came up with a string of strong performances to claim the 64 kg gold medal.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

 

Despite her short stature, the doughty Jyoti Gulia fared well due to her presence of mind and the ability to adjust her game according to the situation. The qualification for the Youth Olympics was like the icing on the cake for the 51 kg World champion.

Apart from the four Haryana girls, Assam’s Ankushita Boro, who was adjudged the ‘Best Boxer’, was also a big crowd puller. Riding on a fine all-round game and massive support, she came up with a string of strong performances to claim the 64 kg gold medal.

Such performances bode well for the country, which now has a pool of competitive boxers in the run-up to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where women would most likely fight in five weight categories instead of three.

“We have several other girls who could not make it to the National squad. They will be eager to prove themselves in the upcoming events and other top level competitions in the future,” said the chief coach, Bhaskar Bhatt.

Now, the real challenge for these girls is in making a smooth transition to the elite level. The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has a big role to play in grooming the talented lot.