All top boxers of the country, including six-time World Champion MC Mary Kom and the three other medal winners at the AIBA World Championships held in New Delhi in November are among those 60 pugilists shortlisted for the national camp which began at the IG Stadium ring. The World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo probables will also be shortlisted from New Delhi.
The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has also rewarded pugilists, who were among the medals and showed promise at the recently-concluded third Elite Women’s National Boxing Championships at Vijayanagar, Karnataka, have been included for the camp.
The campers also include the World Youth gold medallists, Nitu (48kg) and Sakshi (57Kg) and 2017 bronze medallist, Astha Pawa (75kg) as they were elevated from youth division to senior camp for the first time.
Ali Qamar takes charge as the head coach. The Manchester CWG Gold medallist is no new face to the campers, as the Railways coach with loads of experience, has served as the assistant coach until recently and now elevated to the position of head coach of the women’s team. The 37-year-old, who is already a favourite among the pugilists, has now replaced the veteran Shiv Singh and will work alongside foreign coach, Raffaele Bergamasco and 10 other assistant coaches.
On the induction of Ali Qamar, BFI President, Ajay Singh said that the federation felt the need to infuse young blood into the system. “We want to invest in young and dynamic coaches as we aim to prepare for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Qamar has been around for a long time, as a boxer and now, as a coach. He has not only contributed with exceptional inputs; his insights and strategy have been crucial for the boxers’ preparations.”
The selected 60 comprise a mix of young as well as experienced boxers. S. Kalaivani of Tamil Nadu, Himani Pant of Uttarakhand, Rinki Sharma of Uttar Pradesh, Manju of Madhya Pradesh, Sohini of Chandigarh, Monika of Himachal and Lalita of Rajasthan are some of those who have been richly rewarded as BFI also looks at future prospects.
The campers will also have the benefits of 10 support staff, including doctors, physiotherapists, masseurs, nutritionist and video analysts.
The first tournament that the boxers will be aiming after a month-long camp is the Strandja Memorial Cup Boxing to be held in Bulgaria from February 13 to 28.