Indian boxers are training harder,dreaming bigger. The squad for London affirms that
It now emerges that Vijender Singhs bronze medal at the Beijing Games wasnt merely a celebration of Indian boxings first podium finish at the Olympics. It was an event that also made young boxers from around the country train harder and dream bigger. Four of those teenagers have qualified for the London Games to take the boxing squads strength to seven,the most India has fielded at any Olympics.
The young boxing champions Shiva Thapa,Devendro Singh,Sumit Sangwan and Vikas Krishan took their first steps into the ring while growing up in the sports fertile grounds of the Northeast and Haryana. But it was at the National Institute of Sport in Patiala that they sharpened their skills. Here,Thapa and Devendro had Suranjoy Singh to work with,while Sangwan and Krishan could apprentice themselves to Vijender. Boxing has adopted wrestlings good old akhara tradition. Boxers at Patiala live in a commune-like environment where seniors take juniors under their wing.
Unlike wrestling,Indian boxing has never let the speed of modern sport defeat it. With a Cuban coach,B.I. Fernandez,who has been at Patiala for more than two decades and a forward-looking federation that has drawn an imaginative foreign itinerary for its players,boxers have used the rule changes to their advantage. And unlike hockey,the new boxers have avoided deft dodges and fancy footwork to pursue an effective,not necessarily eye-pleasing,style. Like Vijender,most of the young boxers focus on straight and subtle punches that get points and not audacious party tricks that draw applause. Thats because they know that once they reach the podium,the ovation is not just from a full house at the stadium,but from an entire,medal-starved country. Vijender has shown them that.