World youth champion Nitu Ghanghas led the charge as India’s women boxers dominated the Asian Youth Championships, claiming three gold medals at Bangkok on Friday.
The diminutive Nitu (48kg) out-punched local favourite Nillada Meekoon in front of a partisan crowd to claim the first gold for India. Manisha (64kg) and Lalita (69kg) soon followed suit, finishing on top of the podium. The lone male finalist Ankit Khatana (60kg), took a silver medal and so did Anamika (51kg), Sakshi (81kg) and Neha Yadav (81+kg).
Overall, the Indians signed off with three gold, four silver and four bronze medals in the event, which was also a qualifying tournament for the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires later in the year. Nitu’s dominating win was laced with straight punches, accurate and powerful against her much fancied opponent.
Manisha’s was a split 3-2 win over Idimokh Kholova of Tajikistan. The Indian’s hooks carried more power compared to Kholova, who was certainly the sharper of the two with rhythmic foot movement.
Lalita then got the better of Kazakh Maiya Beisebayeva in a fine tactical performance. It wasn’t the cleanest of fights and the Indian displayed fine defensive skills to thwart her aggressive but inaccurate opponent.
However, Sakshi lost to a Kazakh in Guzal Sadikova, unable to match the sheer power of her opponent, whose endurance was another standout feature of her performance.
Earlier, the lone Indian male finalist, Ankit was defeated by Thailand’s Atichai Phoemsap, while Anamika could not break through the defences of Kazakh Zhansaya Abdraimova and settled for a second-place finish.
In the final bout of the day, Neha squared off against Kazakhstan’s Dina Islamabekova. In a bout marred by too much holding and clinching, the Kazakh got the judges’ unanimous nod for the few clean punches she managed to connect.
As for qualification to Youth Olympics, none of the Indian boxers could make the cut as they did not win gold medals in the categories that would feature at the Games. Four women’s weight categories – 51 kg, 57 kg, 75 kg and 60 kg – will feature at the Games and from the ongoing event, the champions have made the cut.