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Boxing is looking for fresh vigour to lift itself after an underwhelming display at the London Olympics. The Senior Nationals, which begin on Tuesday at Hyderabad, offer a timely opportunity to scout for new faces and rejig old methods, finds Nitin Sharma.
Next week, when the Senior National boxing championships begin in Hyderabad, the competition will be 'senior' only in name. Most of the Indian boxers who participated at the London Olympics have opted out of the Nationals. But this has added an extra layer of interest to the event. Strong performances at the Nationals could help some of India's best young boxers stake claim for places in the national camp, scheduled to begin in November at NIS, Patiala. With Rio four years away, youth is now the dominant theme of Indian boxing.
Hisar-born Madan Lal knows this very well. Lal could have been at the national camp last year itself — he had won a silver medal at the Tammer Youth Boxing Tournament last year and a gold at the Cuban training-cum-competition stint. And in the Nationals, he defeated 2006 World Cadet Champion Sunil Kumar in the 52kg final. But since it was an Olympic year, the quotas were already filled up and Lal lost out on a spot in the national camp. Lal is now gearing up for Hyderabad. The 21-year-old started boxing in Bhiwani under Jagdish Chand before shifting to Pune. The move, he says, has played a crucial role in his growth.
"Normally, Haryana boxers compete in higher categories. It was difficult to find a sparring partner in the 52kg category. I joined ASI in June this year. Since most of the Manipuri boxers are here, I have no problem finding sparring partners," says Lal, a 2010 sub-junior national silver medallist.
Fresh faces galore