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Bout of apathy as Indian boxers chase London dreams

Boxing was one of the three disciplines that brought India glory at the Beijing Olympics. Since then, there has been no event where Indian pugilists have not made their podium presence felt. Saurabh Duggal reports. The cost of Olympic glory

other Updated: Mar 28, 2012 02:00 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Boxing was one of the three disciplines that brought India glory at the Beijing Olympics. Since then, there has been no event where Indian pugilists have not made their podium presence felt. But when it comes to providing equipment to make sure Indian boxers receive cutting-edge training, the sports ministry and the Sports Authority of India appear to be stuck in the past.

Ever since the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, the Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) has been asking for a punch-measuring machine, a device used to calculate the force of a punch, reaction times and other minute details. Two years on, even the order has not been placed. Same is the fate of the polar team meter (used to monitor heartbeat) as well as the latest scoring machine.

The London Olympics countdown (starts July 27) has entered the last four months.

No precision
"After the success in Beijing, we have graduated to the next level. But to stay there, hi-tech training equipment is a must," a coach attached with the men's national camp in NIS, Patiala told HT. "Boxing powerhouses of the world use the punch-measuring machine, which even calculates when during a bout there is a dip in punch strength. It also provides reaction times, can monitor a boxer's training over the entire nine minutes and store and generate data."

Added another coach, "Last year, AIBA introduced a new scoring pattern. To help our boxers get a feel of it, we had asked for the latest scoring machine in Patiala. Even that proposal is still in the pipeline."

Given their recent form, Indian boxers are expecting a couple of medals in London, but boxing does not figure on the "list of privileged sports", said a boxer, who has qualified for the Olympics. "We proved our worth in Beijing, at the 2010 Asian Games and last year's world championships. But we're still not given any backing."

Hanging fire
In January, sports minister Ajay Maken had directed the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to procure the punch-measuring machine. Later, it was decided that the IBF will procure it, with SAI paying them 75% of the amount in advance and the rest after delivery. Although its steering committee gave its approval at its February 6 meeting, the progress has been confined to paper. "It is not clear whether SAI will import it or we have to place the order. Till date, we have got nothing in writing," said IBF secretary general, Brigadier PK Muralidharan Raja.

When contacted, a top SAI official said, "Things are under process. The equipment will be procured very shortly. The procurment of the punch measuring machine will be done through the federation, while the rest will be procured directly by SAI."

The cost of Olympic glory