The XXX Commonwealth Boxing Championships is set to herald a new era in Indian boxing. No, not just in the ring, but off it too. Cheerleaders, music, sleek shows, besides thuds of leather, will resonate through the swanky Talkatora Indoor Stadium when the event begins on Thursday. “We’ll have a great show,” vowed the organisers.
Over 14 countries and 100 boxers are here to test their mettle, six months before the Commonwealth Games in October. More than the bouts in the middle, it will be the Indian players who will hog the limelight in the next week. Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh, Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medallist Akhil Kumar, Asian champion Suranjoy, Olympian Jitender and Dinesh are expected to set the ring on fire.
"Since this is a warmup for the Commonwealth Games, we have to take things seriously," said Vijender, who is yet to win a gold at the Commonwealth Games. He finished with a silver in Melbourne in 2006.
With a strong England and Scotland team participating at the Championships, India cannot afford to relax. "In boxing, nothing can be taken for granted," said India's chief coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu. "England and Scotland have fielded a strong team."
"This will be a good platform for the youngsters to prove themselves," said Sandhu.
Vijender nervous yet confident
Vijender, wearing a crisp white shirt and jeans, was at his animated best on Thursday. The pugilist admitted he was confident and was expecting the Indian team to bag all the medals. "As always, I am feeling a bit nervous. But that is normal," he said.
"I think I am confident about my abilities," said the 24-year-old Bhiwani boxer.
Meanwhile, Akhil Kumar sounded excited about the glamourised event. "Full entertainment will be given to the crowd. We are training hard and no matter what the opposition be, we will try to nail every medal."
Though some weight issues have crept up, it's nothing to worry about was what the team management felt. As for the chances, since the event is happening at home, India have the chance to go tops.