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Talent spotting in the ring

Assistant national coach Jaidev Bisht will use upcoming nationals to spot potential stars.

Written by Jonathan Selvaraj | New Delhi | Published: October 24, 2012 1:39 am

Assistant national coach Jaidev Bisht will use upcoming nationals to spot potential stars.

The boxing hall at the Karnail Stadium is abuzz with action on Tuesday evening. Boxers skip,check weight,others punch the heavybag,while still others shadow box. They stop only when they are called to the ring for a sparring session. The contenders for each weight category begin the two minute rounds. When one boxer appears weaker he is replaced by another in that weight category and the rounds continue.

Watching closely and marking score,is Jaidev Bisht. Senior coach of the Railways boxing team and assistant coach of the national team,his job is to pick players who will represent the side for the upcoming Nationals in Hyderabad.

In between scoring blows,Bisht,46,gives advice to the boxers in the ring. “Short punches,short punches,” he shouts. When one light heavyweight uses his feet to trick his opponent into overshooting and lands a combination,the praise is forthcoming even as he continues to scribble in his notebook. Ahead of the Championships,Bisht is confident.

“We have been winning the event for the last five years and hopefully we can win it this time as well,” he says. The Railways squad will be formidable despite the absence of Olympian Manoj Kumar,who is recovering from a cough and an injury to his hand. But Bisht also reckons that the Nationals will be depleted of talent.

“Unfortunately many of the best boxers in the country don’t take part in these games. Some of them like Manoj Kumar have injuries but there are others who feel they are vulnerable and so chose to sit out. But these games are very important. The name of national champion is still prized.”

Indeed while many of his trainees from the senior camp are expected to skip the tournament,Bisht acknowledges that he doesn’t enjoy that privilege. “I can’t switch off. While I will be hoping that our boxers win the title this year as well,I will have to keep my eyes open on who all are playing well. Now that Olympics are over,we need to prepare a team keeping next four years in mind. While there are several players who we think will be around for Rio,we are expecting many youngsters to make their mark,” he says.

The Nationals become doubly important considering,a number of big ticket events like the Asian Championships and the Commonwealth Championships are scheduled in the coming months. In Hyderabad,Bisht says he will not only be looking at the medal winners. “It would be unfair to expect someone who is just starting out to perform at the same level as someone with a lot of experience. There was a boy who lost in one of the early rounds but he fought well so we took him to the national camp. What I want is someone with strong fundamentals,” he says.

That requirement,though rudimentary is surprisingly lacking says Bisht. “The problem is that the junior boxers lack in some basic skills. It was there even when I was a youngster and it still exists. The really talented boxers,are able to adapt and not suffer as much but it makes my job harder. At the senior level,our job is to prepare them for international competitions,not teach them things like balance from the beginning,” he says. “You can’t really blame the junior coaches. They are under a lot of pressure to produce results and that forces them to try and incorporate everything in the youngsters. So instead of throwing straight clear shots,they try to swing blindly. While the boys may win medals in the lower ranks,they find it hard to succeed once they get to the senior level,” he says.

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