The fists are clenched, the battle lines drawn. The eyes are set on the metals on offer. Come Tuesday, boxers from across the Commonwealth will set the ring on fire at the newly-built Talkatora Indoor Stadium.
Amid the thuds of fists and the roars of the crowd, the 10-man India team will fight for supremacy in one of the most glamorous events of the Commonwealth Games.
The day of the draw drew controversy, and for a while, the sport suddenly got lost in the din. The noise was all about the weigh-in machines.
Though officials brushed it aside as ‘nothing unusual’, some delegates felt there was a problem where boxers weighed more than they should have.
Such is the predicament of amateur boxers that even an ounce can ruin a career, even before stepping into the ring. Boxers follow a strict regime to maintain weight. They skip meals and sleep under think blankets to get rid of water and lose weight. On fight day, they don’t drink; not even water. All they survive on for days ahead of an event is coffee (so that they don’t feel hungry) and some fruit. “It’s very tough. Before weigh-ins, we don’t eat for hours,” said Asian championship gold medallist Surnajoy Singh. At the same time, the boxers can’t lose power or stamina.
On Monday, during the draw, certain countries like Australia and Canada had complained about the weights, as some of their boxers weighed in heavier than expected. By evening, when HT spoke to chief of the boxing technical delegates, Ray Silva, things were under control.
“There was no problem,” he said. There were whispers that the weigh-in has been shifted to Tuesday. However, that’s not true. “It’s mandatory for boxers to weigh-in before the bout and there will be no other draw,” confirmed Silva.
Back to India and boxing. After a successful Commonwealth Championships campaign, India’s chief national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu felt India should perform better than they did in Melbourne. “We have set a target and hopefully, with all our boxers fit and raring to go, we will better the medal tally of 2006.”
With Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh and Melbourne Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar leading the charge, nothing is impossible.
Amandeep Singh will be the first Indian to step into the ring against Kenya’s Peter Warui in the 49kg on Tuesday afternoon. Though the opponent is strong, Amandeep will be gunning for glory, and is expected to pull off a win in front of the partisan Indian crowd. “I am fit and am sure can beat the Kenyan,” he said.
In the next bout, Manoj Kumar is all set to make a winning start when he takes on Daniel Lassayo of Sierra Leone in the evening session.