For a country which has won a third of its total Olympic medals in boxing,Kazakhstan can easily boast of being a powerhouse in the sport they have won more international medals than any other country,except Cuba and Russia. As their eight-member team reached here on Tuesday for the 16th AK Mishra Boxing Championship,it would be easy to dub them clear favourites for the event. But coach Mustafin Murat is cautious not to make any tall claims.
We are coming from sub-zero temperatures while the conditions in India are a complete contrast at this time of the year. Most of our boxers have not competed this year so far,so we will be testing their technique. We have come with a young team and it will be good preparation for the hectic season ahead, the 46-year-old coach said,as he prepares to list his teams dietary requirements during their stay in India.
The Kazakh team,which consists of 2007 World junior champion Seidaliev Yerlan,apart from seven other young boxers,however,does not include 2008 Beijing Olympics bronze medallist Yerkebulan Shynaliev,who had earlier been listed for participation.
Beginning with wrestling
Asked what makes the Kazakh boxers such a formidable force in the international arena,Murat said that most Kazakh youngsters are interested in wrestling and start quite early in life. Those who prefer to switch to boxing already have the fitness and stamina required for a sport like boxing and are quick to adapt to the changes. Most of the youngsters regularly take part in the traditional wrestling bouts in villages.
The first Kazakh Olympic gold medallist,Vasilli Jirov,was a wrestler early in his career. When they shift to boxing,they already have the stamina and physique needed in boxing, he said.
Murat added he was surprised to learn that Indian boxers share a similar background. I was having a talk with the Indian coach a few months back and he told me most of the Indian boxers also come with a wrestling background. They have been doing well for the past few seasons and they need to more consistent for success, he suggested.
I have seen Akhil and Jitender play and a lot depends on them to take the game forward in a country like India. I was having a look at some of the Indian boxers this evening and they look in fine form, Murat said.