Some established names and a couple of rookies made for an interesting Indian boxing squad picked for the April-May Asian Championships in which two-time medallist L Devendro Singh could not find a place.
World bronze-medallists Shiva Thapa (60kg) and Vikas Krishan (75kg), along with former Commonwealth gold medallist Manoj Kumar (69kg), were expectedly selected for the 30 April to 7 May event in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The continental showpiece is a qualifying event for the World Championships later this year.
Making a comeback is former Asian Olympic qualifiers' gold-medallist Sumit Sangwan, who last competed in the 2016 Rio Games qualifiers in June.
He has jumped from light heavyweight (81kg) to heavyweight (91kg) and this would be his first competitive outing in the new weight category.
Sangwan was forced to skip the National Championships in December last year after sustaining a cut above his eye during the trials.
The greenhorns in the team are Asian youth silver-winner Ashish Kumar (64kg) and Kavinder Singh (52kg), who managed to upstage Devendro in the trials. Both the boxers will be making their senior international debut in Tashkent.
Kavinder and Ashish were quarter-finalists at the National Championships, where the former had been forced to give a walkover after injuring himself in the pre-quarters. Ashish is the cousin of former Commonwealth Games and Asian bronze-medallist Jai Bhagwan.
Devendro, on the other hand, is in the reserves for the big event, before which the team will travel to Kazakhstan for a training trip starting tentatively from April 15. The Manipur-lad had won a silver in 2013 and a bronze in the 2015 Asian Championships.
Also in the reserves is K Shyam Kumar (49kg), who won a gold medal at the recent Thailand International Tournament. Amit Panghal, a bronze medallist from the Strandja Memorial Tournament (Bulgaria) in February, has made the cut in light flyweight (49kg).
The bantamweight (56kg) slot has gone to Delhi's Gaurav Bidhuri with Strandja Memorial silver-medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin in the reserves. In the light heavyweight (81kg) category, national champion Manish Panwar was selected.
The Asian Championships will have 60 qualifying spots (the top six in each weight category) for the world event scheduled in Hamburg, Germany from August 25. While the semifinalists will be automatic qualifiers, the fifth and sixth place will be decided through box-offs between the losing quarter-finalists.
India had won four medals at the last Asian Championships in 2015. Vikas had won the country its lone silver medal, while Shiva, Devendro and Satish Kumar (+91kg) had settled for bronze medals. Satish has been picked for the upcoming edition as well.
India's last gold medal at the Asian meet had come in 2013 through Shiva, when he was competing in the bantamweight division. Prior to that M Suranjoy Singh (52kg) had won a gold medal in the 2009 edition of the Championship.
The Squad: Amit Panghal (49kg), Kavinder Singh (52kg), Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg), Shiva Thapa (60kg), Ashish Kumar (64kg), Manoj Kumar (69kg), Vikas Krishan (75kg), Manish Panwar (81kg), Sumit Sangwan (91kg), Satish Kumar (+91kg).
Updated Date: Apr 10, 2017 22:03 PM