Shiva Thapa, Gaurav Bidhuri top guns at national boxing championships

Amit Panghal, Manish Kaushik and other Tokyo-returned boxers have decided to skip the national championship. Gold medallists will get a world championships slot.

By Aarish Ansari
Picture by BFI

About 400 boxers from across India will take part in the men’s national boxing championship 2021, set to start on Wednesday at the Inspire Institute of Sports in Bellary, Karnataka

The stakes are high this time as the gold medallists from the national championship will represent India at the world championship, to be held from October 26 in Belgrade, Serbia.

The 2019 world silver medallist Amit Panghal and bronze medallist Manish Kaushik, along with the three other male boxers that represented India at the Tokyo Olympics, have decided to skip the event. Panghal and Kaushik have cited lack of practice as the reason for withdrawal.

The other three Tokyo-returned boxers - Vikas Krishan, Satish Kumar and Ashish Kumar - are injured. Vikas is recuperating from shoulder surgery while Ashish is nursing a wrist injury.

Satish Kumar has opted out after the cut sustained on his right eye during the Olympics developed an infection.

Defending champion and five-time Asian medallist Shiva Thapa, 2017 world bronze-winner Gaurav Bidhuri and Commonwealth Games medallist Mohammad Hussamuddin will be the boxers to watch out for at the nationals.

Shiva Thapa, representing Assam, will compete in the 63.5kg category while Gaurav Bidhuri will take the ring for Railways in the 57kg class.

Two-time Olympian Shiva Thapa was last in action at the Asian boxing championships in Dubai in May. He won a silver medal at the meet.

The silver medallists from the boxing championships will get a place in the national camp, which will be held right after the meet ends on September 21.

The bronze medallists, meanwhile, will have to compete in a selection trial for a spot in the camp.

The Indian national boxing championship, now in its fifth year, will be held in 13 weight divisions instead of 10, following the introduction of new weight categories by the International Boxing Association (AIBA).

The new weight divisions for men are 48kg, 51kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 63.5kg, 67kg, 71kg, 75kg, 80kg, 86kg, 92kg, and +92kg.

The other major change is the return of head guards at the event.

Organised by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), the nationals were not held last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.