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Indian boxers better than Cuba, China and Russia, says Narendra Rana, coach Services boxing team

Rana believes India has the potential to win boxing medals at every Olympics, but selection irregularities are hurdles holding the sport back.

pune Updated: Oct 30, 2018 16:07 IST
Pranav Shahaney
Pranav Shahaney
Hindustan Times, Pune
Narendra Rana, Boxing coach at Army sport institute in Pune(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Having been the boxing coach of the Army Services team since 2005, Narendra Rana, a junior commissioner of the Indian army, has trained and mentored hundreds of boxers, many of whom have gone on to do extremely well at the national level. Now, coaching the host team at the national boxing meet at the ASI in Mundhwa, there is added pressure to deliver. His boxers are seen by experts as favourites to win the elite championship.

Rana believes India has the potential to win boxing medals at every Olympics, but selection irregularities are hurdles holding the sport back.

What are your thoughts on the facilities here at the Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune?

I have visited 40-50 international tournaments. Compared to the countries that do well at these events – China, Cuba, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Russia – the facilities and equipment we have here none of the aforementioned countries have.

If the facilities are all world-class, why is India not able to go past the bronze medal hurdle in the Olympics?

As long as there’s no impartial coaching and impartial selection we are not going to get any further than a bronze medal. As a coach, even if I have 50 boxers, it’s my duty to treat all of them equally and give them equal time and attention. There is no shortage of talent in this country, but it’s all down to the reservation system. I think that India has better boxers than Cuba, China, Russia and Kazakhstan and, but it’s the partial selection holding us behind.

There’s also talk about a number of boxers missing out due to rules and regulations. What’s the reason for that?

This time I was extremely disappointed as there are a lot of boxers from the army (Services) that play from their own state. However, the federation made the decision to remove them saying that a Services boxer cannot represent an external team. The rule is that each team can have only one boxer from each weight class, so we told our other boxers to compete at the district and state level in their respective states and secure a route into this tournament, but the federation was having none of that.

How do you expect your team (Services) to perform?

In all 10 weight categories, none of our boxers have lost yet. Their technique, practice and physical fitness has been exemplary. I think that the championship is ours if we don’t lose focus and I’m expecting all my boxers to make it to the finals and win the gold medal.

First Published: Oct 30, 2018 16:07 IST