Dubai: We have been seeing players fight it out in the boxing ring at the Asian Games for 62 years now. For the longest time, South Korea had been dominating the medal table until recently when countries such as Kazakhstan and China have started to take the lead.
South Korea’s boxing squad was consecutively the most successful in eight out of 16 games but the country’s fighters seem to have lost their edge in recent times.
With boxers such as Moon Sung-kil and Kim Jung-joo now retired, has South Korea’s former boxing grandeur run its course?
What is holding South Korean boxers back?
South Korean boxers are crumbling under the financial pressures. Having to work several jobs, many boxers are unable to devote adequate time to training.
Boxer Won Woo-min said in an interview with The Korea Times: “Two jobs are inevitable for a boxer like me until I rise to be an Asian champion of the Oriental Pacific Boxing Federation (OPBF),”
With the 30-year old Seoul Olympics match-fixing scandal between Park Si-hun and Roy Jones Jr, forever etched in boxing history along with several other controversial match results tilted in favour of the South Korean boxers, perhaps aspirant pugilists are demoralised by fear of being blacklisted.
Who are we going to see in the ring in these Games?
South Korea’s squad this year is saturated with boxers who will all be stepping into the Asian Games ring for the very first time.
As far as preparations go, the team has been very tight-lipped about their training programmes as well as their expectations for the games. It will be intriguing to see if South Korea, who won only two out of 13 gold medals at the Asian Games in 2014, will mount a comeback, especially since none of the country’s previous squad members are returning to the Games this year.
In order to top the medal table, the team are going to have to step up their game big time to even stand a chance, with skilled countries such as Japan, Kazakhstan and India all going for gold.
Haiju Choi will be representing the country in the lightweight category, and a team member will be competing in each of the categories for both men and women. So it like South Korea is really trying to maximise its chances of securing gold.
With a team full of Asian Games novices, is the country riding its hopes on a risky strategy? We shall see. But one thing is for sure, if the country wants to reclaim its lost glory, the fighters have to grab this opportunity with both hands and prove themselves in the ring.
The boxing matches are scheduled to begin on the August 24, kicking off with the preliminary round for the men.