Certain things never change in Indian sport. The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) obviously has no choice, as it has gone back to the man who was made to quit as national coach following a ‘not-too-impressive show’ at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
After considering a host of names, the IABF again zeroed in on Gurbax Singh Sandhu.
Since the current national coach M Venu, has quit for personal reasons, and Cuban coach-designate BI Fernandes is still ‘on his way to India’, Sandhu is effectively in-charge of the national camp at Patiala.
“Venu doesn’t want to continue as coach because of personal reasons,” said PK Muralidharan Raja, the IABF secretary.
“Moreover, Sandhu has been out of job for almost three years and he feels he is ready to deliver.”
The mystery over Fernandes’s non-appearance too seems to have been solved. “The Cuban government has cleared his name. He should be joining us by next month,” Raja added.
Sandhu, who had been serving on the selection panel, said he was up to the task. “Since I have been away from the ring for a while, it will take time to know the boys. As a selector, you view the pugilists from the sidelines. But your role changes as a coach. With just a year left for the Olympics, it would be a challenging assignment. I’m ready for it,” he said.
Having helped win an Asian gold medal and a host of Commonwealth Games medals as a coach, Sandhu is the most experienced man India has at the moment. But what remains to be seen is whether he would be able to deliver.
“Once I take charge, I will be in a position to reveal more. We should be able to field a few boxers in the Olympics,” the coach said.
We will have to wait and watch.
Team for Kazakhstan
Indian boxing has been improving with every meet and, in its quest for Olympic glory, the IABF has been doing its bit to improve the game. The IABF, in association with Mittal Champions Trust, is sending eight boxers to Kazakhstan for a three-week training-cum-competition stint on July 3.
“The Mittal Trust has been very helpful, and with the money they are pumping in, we are able to train our boxers for international meets, including the Olympic qualifiers,” said Muralidharan.
“We have sent eight names for clearance on a no-cost-to-government basis.” The boxers will train under Kazakh coach Kanat K. Zhaxybayev.
Team: Sanjay Kolte (48kg), Jitender (51kg), Akhil Kumar (54kg), Diwakar Prasad (57kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj (64kg), Vijender (75kg), Dinesh (81kg), Jai Dev Bisht (Coach).