Boxers from different countries pose with the Indian boxing team after a practice session ahead of the AIBA Women’s World Championships in New Delhi (Pic: BFI).
In 2006, the previous occasion when New Delhi hosted the Women’s World Boxing Championships, India finished on top of the medals table with eight, including four gold medals. The team management and the boxers themselves have hinted that a similar performance would be difficult at the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships to be staged at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium Complex’s KD Jadhav Wrestling Hall from November 15-24.
Two of the gold medallists from the 2006 edition — MC Mary Kom and Sarita Devi — form the core of the Indian boxing team vying for glory at the Worlds in the 10 weight divisions. Mary will take part in the 48kg category, starting as one of the favourites for gold, though the boxer herself was quick to admit that the quality of women’s boxing is such that nothing is guaranteed.
“The home advantage is a big factor,” said the 35-year-old five time world champion. “The boxers have trained well too. So we are expecting a good tournament but it is going to be very tough. The boxers are all very good and we all will be facing tough opponents right from the opening round.
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Sarita Devi, who is keen on using the Worlds as a springboard to keep alive her aspirations to take part in the next Olympics in Tokyo (2020), will take part in the 60kg division. Simranjit Kaur, who will take part in the 64kg division and is a former World Cup silver medallist, is expected to feature in the medal rounds.
The Indian contingent also feature three young boxers whose performances hold promise for the future, regardless of results this time around — Manisha Moun (54), Sonia (57kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg).
“We have a few boxers who have won medals at global tournaments previously. A favourable draw could see four five of our boxers to feature in the latter stages of the championships,” said Santiago Nieva, Indian boxing’s high performance director.
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“Of course our recent performances have not been that great. We didn’t win a medal at the Asian Games and managed only one (Mary Kom’s gold) at the Commonwealth Games,” he added. “However, fighting at home would be an advantage for our boxers and we are expecting them to perform at a higher level in New Delhi.”
Mary Kom, seeking her sixth world crown, will obviously be a crowd favourite though she would face some tough opposition en route to gold. There are many other showstoppers — superstars of women’s boxing — in the mix too. Virginia Fuchs (51kg) of the US, Taipei’s Lin Yu Ting (54 kg), Chinese boxers Yin Junhua (57), Gu Hong (69), Wang Lina (81) and defending champion Yang Xiaoli (+81 kg) are the big names to look out for.
Italy’s Alessia Mesiano starts as favourite for gold in the featherweight category. She was the world champion in 57kg at the 2016 edition, and a repeat is expected. Kazakhstan’s Nazyum Kyzaiba, again a defending champion from the 2016 championships, will try to retain her crown in the 51Kg division.
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Australia’s Kaye Scott (69kg) and Skye Nicolson (57kg), Peamwillai Laopeam of Thailand and Russia’s Rio Olympics bronze medallist Anastasia Beliakova (60kg) are are also expected to be showstoppers at the championships.
The dark horses include Nouchka Fontjin (75kg) from the Netherlands, Ingrit Valencia Victory (51kg) from Colombia, both of whom won medals at the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The championships will also see a former professional boxer in action: Colombia’s Dayana Cordero Hernandez, a former interim WBA world female bantamweight belt holder. Veteran Mira Potkonen — a bronze medallist in the 60kg division in Rio — will also be gunning for a golden run in New Delhi.
Mary Kom (48 Kg), Pinky Jangra (51 Kg), Manisha Maun (54 Kg), Sonia (57 Kg), L Sarita Devi (60 Kg), Simranjit Kaur (64 Kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69 Kg), Saweety Boora (75 Kg), Bhagyabati Kachari (81 Kg) and Seema Poonia (+81 Kg).
Coaches: Raffaele Bergamasco (Foreign Coach); Shiv Singh (Head Coach) Sandhya Gurung; Md.Ali Qamar; Chhote Lal Yadav; Satvir Kaur.
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