After a show of six gold medals last year, the Indian boxing contingent is confident of putting up an even better show as the second edition of the India Open which kicks off at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati from May 20.
Having trained rigorously on improving their attacking game, the India Open is a place where the country’s pugilists are ready to show their supremacy despite some stiff international competition.
“We have been training our boxers for the last few months in such a way that they understand the need to switch from defensive mode to offensive mode faster and make it effective as well,” said Santiago Nieva, India’s chief performance director.
“This has resulted in many of our boxers being attacking and aggressive-minded, yet they have been able to hold their ground when needed,” he added.
This approach resulted in India’s unprecedented success at the Asian Championships last month where India had a rich haul of 13 medals while individual boxers have also benefitted from it.
Former World Championships bronze medallist Shiva Thapa, who had suffered a shocking semi-final loss to compatriot Manish Kaushik in 60kg at the India Open last year agreed. The setback coupled with a few more unexpected losses made the 25-year-old introspect and work hard extensively with the coaches to change his game, which was rewarded with a bronze at the continental event this year.
“I have changed my game. Even in the last Asian Championships, I played much more freely. I am being more aggressive now. This is the style of boxing I have adopted now and our coaches too are helping me with my technique,” said Thapa.
The confidence of the Indian squad is bolstered as foreign boxers are now wary of India even before the start of the tournament as several teams have been thoroughly studying the Indian boxers.
Chatchai Decha Butdee, a two-time Olympian boxer from Thailand and former Asian champion considers the Indian challenge in 56kg to be tough. With the 2019 Asian Championships silver medallist Kavinder Singh Bisht and 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Mohammed Hussamuddin from India is in the same category, his work is cut out.
“I have watched videos of Kavinder Singh Bisht to be aware of his style. I even watched his 56kg final at the Asian Championships in Bangkok this year. He definitely won’t be an easy opponent to deal with,” said the accomplished Thai pugilist.
Sixteen countries have participated in the second edition of the India Open where close to 200 boxers will be vying for the podium. The preliminaries will be held on May 20 and 21 to be followed by the quarter-finals and semi-finals, culminating into the grand finale on May 24.