Boxing Olympic Qualifiers: Amit Panghal, MC Mary Kom lead India's charge as rush for Tokyo berths resumes amid Coronavirus scare

Besides Panghal, attention will also be on Vikas Krishan, who is returning to the 69 kg division after a brief, undefeated stint in the professional circuit and will be gunning for his third straight Olympics

FP Sports March 03, 2020 15:01:36 IST
Boxing Olympic Qualifiers: Amit Panghal, MC Mary Kom lead India's charge as rush for Tokyo berths resumes amid Coronavirus scare
  • 33 boxers have already booked their places through African qualifying, which took place in Dakar last month

  • Besides Panghal, attention will also be on Vikas Krishan, who is returning to the 69 kg division after a brief, undefeated stint in the professional circuit and will be gunning for his third straight Olympics

  • Among women, the redoubtable MC Mary Kom will lead India's charge, albeit her fracas with Nikhat Zareen has taken some sheen off her halo

Following a barren run at the 2016 Rio Games, India's hopes for an Olympic spot in boxing will rest on the Asian Qualifiers that begin in Amman, Jordan on 3 March. The event was scheduled to be held in Wuhan, China in February but was postponed and relocated following the coronavirus outbreak.

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File image of Amit Panghal. Image: @BFI_official

While a grand total of two Olympic medals — a bronze each by Vijender Singh and MC Mary Kom in 2008 and 2012 respectively — reflect poorly on country's boxing prowess, the next generation of Indian pugilists, led by Amit Panghal, inspire hope. A total of 41 spots among men and 22 berths for women will be up for grabs at the event that will end on 11 March.

Here's all you need to know about the event:

What are the Olympic weight categories?

At the Tokyo Olympics, men will compete in eight weight categories while women will have five weight classes. The qualifiers, hence, will be held in the same categories.

Men: Flyweight (52kg), Featherweight (57kg), Lightweight (63kg), Welterweight (69kg), Middleweight (75kg), Light heavyweight (81kg), Heavyweight (91kg), Super heavyweight (+91kg)

Women: Flyweight (51kg), Featherweight (57kg), Lightweight (60kg), Welterweight (69kg), Middleweight (75kg)

How does the qualification system work?

Post the suspension of the game's global governing body (AIBA), the International Olympic Committee (IOC) set up an Olympic Boxing Task Force and entrusted it with the task of conducting Olympic qualifiers. The Task Force devised a qualifying system consisting of five qualifying tournaments — four continental events followed by a world event. The world qualifying event will be open to athletes from the National Olympic Committees (NOC's) who are yet to obtain a quota place in a weight class. Thus, a boxer gets two chances to secure an Olympic berth.

33 boxers have already booked their places through African qualifying, which took place in Dakar last month. The European qualifying event will take place in London in March, followed by the Americas qualifying event in Buenos Aires. The World Qualifiers will be held in Paris in May.

What are India's chances?

India have sent a strong squad to the Qualifiers following their impressive show at the World Championships last year. Among men, Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik won a silver and a bronze respectively, while women returned with one silver and three bronze medals. Besides Panghal, who enters the field as World No 1 in his category, attention will also be on Vikas Krishan. The 26-year-old is returning to the 69 kg division after a brief, undefeated stint in the professional circuit and will be gunning for his third straight Olympics.

Among women, the redoubtable MC Mary Kom will lead India's charge, albeit her fracas with Nikhat Zareen has taken some sheen off her halo. Apart from her, two-time World bronze-medallist Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) will be the one to watch out for.

What does India's squad look like?

Men: Amit Panghal (52kg), Gaurav Solanki (57kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), Sachin Kumar (81kg), Naman Tanwar (91kg) and Satish Kumar (+91kg)

Women: MC Mary Kom (51kg), Sakshi Chaudhary (57kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg)

Who are the key contenders?

Traditional powerhouses Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are expected to dominate the Qualifiers. Among men, Uzbekistan will back the reigning world and Olympic flyweight champion Shakhobidin Zoirov, reigning world featherweight champion Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov, and reigning world super-heavyweight champion Bakhodir Jalolov to make the cut. It's worth remembering that Panghal lost his World Championships final (0-5) to Zoirov.

Kazakhstan light-heavyweight Bekzad Nurdauletov, who won his country’s only gold at last year’s Worlds, will also be in action, while countryman Vassiliy Levit, who won heavyweight silver in Rio and bronze in Yekaterinburg, will be bidding to qualify for his second Olympics.

Philippines' middleweight Eumir Marcial is hoping to go one better than his silver medal at the 2019 Worlds and has been taking advice from countryman Manny Pacquiao, one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Among women, China’s middleweight Li Qian will be the main challenger. A bronze medallist at Rio 2016, Qian is a former world champion and the reigning Asian champion. India's Mary Kom will be the biggest draw in the 51kg division while Lovlina Borgohain is expected to do well in the 69 kg class.

Will the bouts be live-streamed?

Yes. You can catch live action on the Olympic Channel. All the latest news and updates related to the event will be available on Firstpost.com

Updated Date:

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