Asian Boxing Championships in India deferred to 2021 due to COVID

India had last hosted the men’s Asian boxing championship in 1980 in Mumbai and the women’s event in 2003 in Hisar.

By Subhayan Dutta

Top Indian boxers are unlikely to see any major boxing competitions this year after the Asian Boxing Championships were postponed to 2021 owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The decision to defer the Asian championships was taken in an online meeting of the Asian Boxing Confederation’s Executive Council (ASBC EC) on Monday, where President Anas Alotaiba was present along with most executive council members.

“A postponement was proposed owing to the conditions prevailing because of the pandemic and it was accepted,” Boxing Federation of India’s (BFI) Secretary General Jay Kowli told PTI.

India remains the host and the tournament will now happen in 2021, said Kowli, who is also a member of the ASBC Executive Council.

Indian boxers are currently training at the national camp in NIS Patiala.

After months of lockdown, nine top Indian boxers - five men and four women - have now resumed training at the national camp in Patiala.

With most events leading up to the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers postponed until next year, the BFI is not expecting many tournaments in 2020. The Asian Boxing Confederation, though, is still trying to squeeze in a major event before the year ends.

“The ASBC decided that there is a possibility of just one event, probably in November in China, where only the top boxers can compete to keep the field small,” Jay Kowli said, “But that is also just a proposal, it may or may not happen.”

The 2019 Asian Boxing Championships, held in Bangkok, was the first edition to feature both men and women boxers together and the Indian contingent had returned with their best-ever medal haul of 13.

While Pooja Rani (81kg) and Amit Panghal (52kg) clinched the gold, Deepak Singh (49kg), Kavinder Bisht (56kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), and Simranjit Kaur (64kg) had claimed silver medals. Veteran Laishram Sarita Devi and Nikhat Zareen were among the bronze medallists.

Although India had limited success in the 2019 World Boxing Championships, a brilliant outing at the Asian Boxing Olympic qualifiers in Amman in March saw nine Indian boxers claim golden tickets for the Tokyo Olympics.