AIBA’s suspension of the IBF means that Indian boxers will not be able to compete in international tournaments. So, now the biggest fear for Indian boxers is isolation
Earlier this year, when 18-year-old Shiva Thapa became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the London Olympics, the country’s count in the Games ring went up to seven, the highest ever for the nation. Thapa, who competes in the 56 kg bantam-weight category not only won the quota, but also claimed the title in the Asian qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Though the likes of Asian Games silver medallist Manpreet Singh and Commonwealth Games (CWG) champion Paramjeet Singh Samota missed the bus to London, it was perhaps the strongest ever contingent for the event. After Beijing Olympics, where Vijender Singh won the bronze medal, Indian boxing saw the emergence of young boxers like Vikas Yadav, who claimed the bronze medal in the 2011 World Championships in Baku and a young Devendro Singh, who shocked favourites like CWG silver medallist Amandeep Singh and the 2007 World Youth Champion Nanao Singh to bag a quota in 49 kg for London.
But in London, the failure of the Indian boxers, many of whom came close to entering the medal round, including Vijender, meant that Indian boxing was again on the back foot. If Vikas Yadav’s first-round defeat and Manoj Kumar’s quarterfinal loss were a result of dubious umpiring, Vijender Singh’s reversal in the quarters of the 75 kg category to old foe Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev had to do with the Beijing hero’s injuries.
But what was heartening was the fearless show by 18-year-old Devendro Singh against Ireland’s Paddy Barnes in the quarterfinals in the 49 kg category. The Manipuri boxer impressed many with his swift feet and showed that he was a boxer to watch out for. Young boxers Devendro and Manoj Kumar’s performances also meant that the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA) also praised the Indian boxing team after the London Olympics. Four of the seven boxers, who went to London, are under 20 and the experience gained in London will surely help them in the long term. If Vijender Singh became the first Indian to be ranked number one in world rankings in 2009, the rankings of Devendro Singh (five) and Vikas Krishan Yadav (three) show the talent India has.
Post-London, none of the seven boxers participated in the Nationals held in Hyderabad in November.