It’s on the cautionary list for travellers to Scotland, and it’s usually told with an almighty guffawing laugh. ‘Beware-of-the-Glasgow-Kiss’, a slang for headbutts and sharp thwacks on the temple with the forehead, during a particularly violent welcome, is meant to tickle funny bones.
For Indian boxers though, being at the receiving end of the dreaded kiss-variant could mean a blood trickle from a gashed wound above the eye. In short, the Glasgow Kiss can ruin their chances at the Commonwealth Games in a matter of seconds, and no one will certainly find it either amusing, or amorous.
Linked with the absence of headgear in boxing’s new rules, the ability to steer clear of cuts and headbutts is the single biggest challenge for Indian pugilists in the coming days at the Commonwealth Games.
The sport in India is littered with scarring instances in the recent past, where a mere opening up of a wound has sent careers haywire.
“I had a massive record in World Series Boxing,” says Shiva Thapa with an incredulous gasp, hinting obviously at the fact that the record isn’t remembered particularly fondly. In a space of two outings in two months against the US and Germany, the young Indian bantamweight had had cuts opened up above both the left and right eye-brows through headbutts. “We have to be very careful of cuts and headbutts. There is a strong possibility a bout ends abruptly if any cut opens up,” he cautions.
The head-gear disappearing has sure helped boxers sense and even see the left and right hooks coming peripherally, but it also means the defensive guard is up almost immediately when the bell for the opening round rings. “Earlier we’d spend the first 10 seconds figuring out the opponent’s style – counterpuncher or aggressive, but now from the first second, it’s hand high and chin down at all times,” he says.
Thapa is not too keen on wearing eye-gashes as a patch-badge of honour, so preaches circumspection against errant elbows.
Perhaps, the biggest sufferer of boxing’s Glasgow kiss was Thapa’s team-mate Devendro Singh, who took a bad one from an opponent in World Championship qualification-trials in India, and was forced to sit out. Nanao Singh took his place but Devendro is not forgetting it in a hurry. It has even calmed down the feisty boxer and convinced him to change his aggressive-at-all-costs demeanour.
Devendro’s learning a few things the hard way — including that sparring with Irishman Paddy Barnes ahead of the Olympics when you are likely to run into him in competition, was not the smartest of ideas. But the whizkid with the speedy flurry, is also determined to zealously guard his face, with the first sighting of red liquid capable of ending things prematurely.
For Viren Rasquinha who’s closely watched continued…