Panghal in focus as Indian boxers fight in final qualifiers for Paris Olympics

Bangkok, May 23 (PTI) Indian pugilists will be determined to overcome the recent setbacks both inside and outside the boxing ring when they aim for the last available tickets to the Olympic Games at the second World Qualification Tournament, starting here on Friday.

Up until the last qualifying event, Indian boxers had four quotas but in an unprecedented embarrassment, that number is now down to three after women’s 57kg holder Parveen Hooda was handed a 22-month ban for whereabouts failure this month.

The boxers’ performance at the previous world qualifiers in March was dismal to say the least with only 2023 world championship bronze-medallist Nishant Dev moving past the opening round.

This also triggered a coaching crisis. High Performance Director Bernard Dunne handed his resignation during the first World qualifier itself.

“From the Thailand qualifiers, we definitely hope to clinch 4-5 quota places and we are hoping for the best. This time we have a definite chance,” Indian boxing coach CA Kuttappa told SAI Media ahead of event here.

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) has made several changes with India’s lone male world championship silver-medallist Amit Panghal finally back the mix after Deepak Bhoria failed to win a quota in the first two qualifying events in the 51kg category.

Panghal is coming off a gold-winning run at the prestigious Strandja Memorial tournament earlier this year and the 2022 Commonwealth Games. He will have only one shot at making the Olympics and the former Asian Games champion will look to make the most of it.

Abhinash Jamwal has been handed an opportunity to make the cut for his debut Olympics after the seasoned Shiva Thapa’s repeated failures in the 63.5kg weight class, which has five quotas on offer.

Young boxer Abhimanyu Loura, who has replaced Lakshya Chahar, will try his luck in 80kg. He will have to make it to the top three to earn his maiden Olympic appearance.

Nishant Dev missed sealing his berth in Italy by a whisker. He would be brimming with confidence. With five quotas on offer in 71kg, he is expected to return with a ticket to Paris.

In women’s competition, Ankushita Boro, who competed in the 66kg event, has moved down to 60kg, pipping Jaismine Lamboriya in the assessment. Ankushita will have to finish in the top three to make the cut.

However, Jaismine who failed to book a berth during the earlier two qualifying events, has got a third shot albeit in the 57kg after Parveen was sanctioned.

National Champion Arundhati Choudhary (66kg) will be the third Indian female boxer in the fray.

With 188 boxers having already earned Olympic berths via the continental qualifiers and the world qualifiers, Indian boxers are expected to add to the tally of three quotas.

“Our boxers are in a good mental position now. The confidence from the sparring sessions has risen and psychologists are playing a key role to keep them away from pressure,” Kuttappa said.

The tournament has 51 quota places on offer, including 23 for women and 28 for men, and a boxer will be assured of a Paris ticket after reaching the semifinals.

India had an unprecedented nine boxers competing at the Tokyo Olympics, which yielded one medal — a bronze by Lovlina Borgohain.

Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Preeti Pawar (54kg) and Borgohain (75kg) secured their entry to Paris at the Asian Games last year.


Women: Jaismine Lamboria (57kg), Ankushita Boro (60kg), Arundhati Choudhary (66kg).

Men: Amit Panghal (51kg), Sachin Siwach Jr. (57kg), Abhinash Jamwal (63.5kg), Nishant Dev (71kg), Abhimanyu Loura (80kg), Sanjeet (92kg), Narender Berwal (+92kg).

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