The second edition of the India Open International Boxing tournament will begin in Guwahati from May 20. Six-time world champion Mary Kom has arrived in the city early to train and acclimatize as she sets her sights on the 51kg gold.
The London Olympic bronze medallist, a gold medallist in 48kg at India Open 2018, spent Saturday afternoon honing her skills at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Centre, Guwahati ahead of the premier five-day event to be held at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati.
“Yes, of course, there are expectations from me. I have been training well and will give my 100 per cent to make my country proud. A change is always good and I feel more confident in 51kg after the last few months of rigorous training. It feels like a homecoming to come here (Guwahati) and I hope there will be tremendous support for all the Indian boxers,” said the star pugilist.
While Mary Kom leads the Indian contingent, top international boxers such as Asian Games gold medallist Baturov Bobo, Asian Games champion Mirzakhalilov Mirazizbek, two-time World Championships medallist Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan, Youth Olympic champion Brian Agustin Arregui of Argentina, world champion and reigning Asian Championships, Josie Gabuco of Philippines will ensure that the line-up is competitive.
With a few months to go for the World Championships, which is also an Olympic qualifier, the India Open will serve as the preparatory ground for all the participants.
“There are a lot of boxers, including me, who have changed their category,” said Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal, who has changed his weight category from 49kg to 52kg. “So, this will be a good platform for us to face top-notch boxers and gauge the competition as we gear up for the World Championships,” added the Asian champion who won a gold medal in 52kg.
Foreign teams have already started arriving with Thailand and Argentina being the first teams to touch down in Guwahati on Saturday while others are expected to come on Sunday.