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India a favoured spot for Olympic pugilists

Going abroad for an exposure trip just before a major event is nothing new for an Indian team. But an Olympic team coming to India for exposure is unheard of. If everything goes well, besides Cuba and Europe, India is set to become a venue for an exposure-cum-training trip prior to the Olympics.

india Updated: Jun 19, 2008 23:40 IST
Indraneel Das

Going abroad for an exposure trip just before a major event is nothing new for an Indian team. But an Olympic team coming to India for exposure is unheard of.

If everything goes well, besides Cuba and Europe, India is set to become a venue for an exposure-cum-training trip prior to the Olympics.

An eight-member Algerian boxing team has approached the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation to spend at least two weeks in India. “They have approached us directly and we have sent it to the Sports Authority of India and Sports Ministry for their approval,” said P.K. Muralidharan Raja, IABF secretary. “If the government approves, this will be the first time that an Olympic team would practice along with the Indians.” And Patiala will be the venue.

As to the reason for choosing India as one of the destinations, Raja felt India’s recent performances in international tournaments might have prompted them. “Algeria have good boxers. We have not won a medal at the Olympics, but as far as I know they have a few,” he said. “It would be just like us going to Germany or Kazakhstan for an exposure trip.”

According to Raja, the president of the Algerian Boxing Federation, Abdellah Bessalem, was in India for the Afro-Asian Games at Hyderabad in 2003 and had witnessed the country’s top boxers during various international meets. “Maybe, they were impressed by the boxers as well as our facilities,” he said. Apart from the eight Algerians, the lone Sri Lankan to qualify for the Olympics, Anuruddha Rathnayake, has also sought the IABF’s clearance. However, The IABF is treading cautiously. “We would not like to over-expose our boxers. But at the same time, sparring with them will benefit our boxers,” Raja said.

Akhil skips event

Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar will not be stepping into the ring because of pain in his wrist. “He will skip the training-cum-exposure tournament in Germany as he did not want to aggravate the injury,” said Raja said about the boxer who underwent a rehabilitation programme in South Africa for the recurring injury.