A shot in arm for pugilists

The International Amateur Boxing Association's (AIBA) decision to allow Indian boxers to compete under its flag will pave the way for the juniors, many of whom will graduate to the senior section over the next six months, to compete in at least five events, including the forthcoming Asian Junior Championship in Philippines in March.

Over the last month Indian boxers training at camps in Aurangabad, Sonepat and Vizag were facing an uncertain future.

With Indian boxing going through a rebuilding phase after the men returned empty-handed from the London Games, it was vital that the next crop of pugilists established themselves by pitting their skills against the best in the world if they held hopes of finishing on the podium in next year's Commonwealth Games and Asian Games.

The youth and junior boxers, including the women, have given a reason to cheer by winning 25 medals since London. This talent pool also includes World Youth Boxing Championship silver medalist LP Prasad (49 kg) and bronze-medal winner Sandeep (75kg).

The women's youth and junior teams have also added to the positive outlook by returning with eight medals, including three gold, from the second edition of the Nations Cup in Serbia. Competing under the AIBA flag will also allow the seniors, including Shiva Thapa, Devendro Singh and Sumit Sangwan, to take part in at least eight international events, including the men's World Championships (an event in which India has won a medal in the last two editions) in Kazakhstan in October and the Asian Cup and the Presidents Cup in August.

Thapa, Singh and Sangwan had pulled off upsets to win quotas in their weight categories and represent the country at the London Games. That Indian boxers can fight under the AIBA flag will come as a relief for the coaches in their quest to unearth juniors who can match or even outdo the established order in Indian boxing.

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