World Championship medallist Shiva Thapa and Commonwealth Games gold medallist Manoj Kumar are star attractions at the 2nd Elite Men’s National Boxing Championship, which begins in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday. However this year’s World Championship bronze medallist Gaurav Bidhuri will give the blue riband event a miss, due to a back injury while Rio Olympic quarter-finalist Vikas Krishan is absent due to a hand injury.
Current national champion Shiva of Assam will be vying for top honours in the 60 kg category while Manoj will represent Railways in the 65 kg division. The event will feature 309 boxers across 26 teams, which includes states as well as institutional units.
“This is the biggest domestic tournament for us and will give many of the upcoming boxers immense exposure. This will also be a good opportunity for all of us to reflect on our performances,” said Shiva, who will be defending his gold medal won in Guwahati, last year.
“Each tournament is important to me and I will look to replicate my gold winning performance from last year,” the champion concluded on a positive note.
Senior pro Manoj also spoke about the importance of national championship, something that was missing from the calender for the past few years without a governing body.
“We had a rough time for very long as we didn’t even have a governing body. But now under Ajay Singh’s (BFI president) leadership, a number of young boxers are coming up the ranks and for the first time in our country’s history we are getting to host global events in our own backyard,” he said.
Singh on his part hoped that new talent will be unearthed from the event.
“This is the second edition of Elite Men’s National Championship and I am sure like the first edition of the Championship, lot of new talent will be identified in this platform,” Singh said at the glittering opening ceremony.
“The participation of 309 boxers from 37 states and sports promotion boards of the country shows how important this tournament is for the boxers and I am sure this Championship will provide the right platform for many more champions to emerge.
“I am thankful to the Railway Sports Promotion Board for organising the Men’s National Championship and for extending their support for the promotion of boxing in the country,” he added.
The first edition of this tournament was successfully held in Guwahati last year; it is being held with support from RSPB in Visakhapatnam.