Even as Indian boxers were winning their bouts with consummate ease against foreign challengers at the YMCA international boxing on Thursday, there were some who were not too impressed by the performances. There is a feeling that most of the victories were assured simply because of the sheer number of participation, and a lack of strong competition from the foreign boxers.
Exposing the country's upcoming boxers by pitting them against top boxers from abroad was the objective of the tournament, but that was that was not to be, since most countries have sent their second-rung teams. "We would have had a better idea of our boxing talent if the top foreign boxers had come," laments national coach Munuswamy Venu.
The coach is also concerned that success here could lead the boxers into a false belief about their abilities. "It's good they have been winning here but this can't be the yardstick to gauge how much they have improved," Venu says, adding, "The real test lies in performing at the World Championships, the Olympics and the Asian Games."
As regards the tournament, Venu feels that going back to being an invitational championship for states and units from across the country could be a welcome move.
And the view is shared by others. "If the top foreign boxers give the tournament a miss then what's the purpose of holding it," questions former coach O.P. Bhardwaj.
Are foreign teams apprehensive? "No, it is not apprehension. It's just that the tournament is yet to be recognised by the AIBA and till it finds a place on their annual calendar, foreign teams will not be too keen to compete," explains Bhardwaj.
In this regard, the announcement by Muralitharan Raja, secretary-general of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF), that the federation has approached AIBA to let India host a recognised tournament every year was welcome news.
"Unless we host tournaments like the Presidents Cup, Kings Cup and Mayors Cup, we will never be able to produce Olympic champions," he says.
Sunil downs Batora
India A's Sunil Kumar won the gold in the flyweight category beating Bacyora Gilbert of Mauritius 27-7.