Gold Coast: A bullish India celebrated their best boxing performance at a Commonwealth Games and are now targeting more success to rival the best nations at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Top figures in Indian boxing said their exploits on Australia’s Gold Coast were no fluke, even if they surpassed their own expectations in racking up nine medals in the sport.
India pipped hosts Australia to sit second in the boxing medals table with three golds — Mary Kom (light flyweight), Vikas Krishan (middleweight) and Gaurav Solanki (flyweight).
England, who have poured significant resources into amateur boxing, topped the table with six gold medals.
It was a highly satisfactory ending to a fortnight that started badly for Indian boxing with a warning for breaking the Games’ strict no needle policy after giving a vitamin injection to an unnamed fighter.
All this comes just a few years after Indian boxing reached a nadir when its federation was effectively expelled by the sport’s amateur world governing body, the International Boxing Association (AIBA), over how it elected its officials.
Now back in the international fold as the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), its president Ajay Singh said at the Gold Coast: “Last year a new federation took over and we are trying to ensure that we hold championships in India and have our boxers participate in all international championships.
So far, so good. At the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealths, India failed to win one gold, underlining the stark improvement since.
“We have tried to put a lot of focus on the boxers themselves, leave out the politics and make sure that we have the best support staff training our boxers,” said Singh.
“Also make sure that our boxers get as much exposure as possible — Indian fighters were not going out fighting anywhere in the world.”
He is changing that, sending Indian boxers abroad for tournaments and hosting international events such as January’s inaugural Indian Open.
“We are also trying to plan scientifically — how they train for endurance, what food they eat, scientifically how they can upgrade their skills,” Singh said.
“I don’t think that before we looked at boxing as a sport in which India needed to be a world power.”