Box office hit but Nikhat & Co have bigger challenges
Not to undermine the boxers’ performances here, but they know that some of the top countries, like the US and Ireland, had given the tournament a miss.
Published: 28th March 2023 02:00 AM | Last Updated: 28th March 2023 02:00 AM | A+A A-
The Women’s World Boxing Championships in New Delhi significantly lifted women’s boxing in the country. Four Indians—Nikhat Zareen, Lovlina Borgohain, Nitu Ghanghas and Saweety Boora—topped the podium. India finished with four gold and was on top of the medals table. The last time India won four gold was in 2006 when women’s boxing was not part of the Olympic programme. After its introduction to the Olympic programme in 2012, M C Mary Kom claimed one bronze in London and in 2021, Lovlina won another in Tokyo.
Nikhat (50kg) and Lovlina (75kg), in particular, showed that they could evolve and adapt. Competing in new weight categories is never easy, but the duo showed they are among the best and are serious contenders for the Olympics in Paris next year. The rigours of the international circuit are demanding and can take their toll on the body and mind. Both are established boxers, and they know it will be a never-ending test until the Olympics.
Not to undermine the boxers’ performances here, but they know that some of the top countries, like the US and Ireland, had given the tournament a miss. Also, one must remember that while Lovlina and Nikhat’s weight categories are part of the Olympics, Nitu’s (48kg) and Saweety’s (81kg) are not. With Paris Olympics bouts scheduled to be conducted in six weight categories (50kg, 54kg, 57kg, 60kg, 66kg and 75kg) in the women’s section, India has plenty of gaps to fill. Young faces were given an opportunity in the marquee event but lacked the experience to secure a medal.
What makes it more complicated is that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had not granted this World Championships Olympic qualification status. The International Boxing Association (IBA) is currently under suspension, and the qualification will be conducted as per IOC norms. Currently, the biggest challenge for India would be the Asian Games in September this year, which is set to be the first qualification event. The Boxing Federation of India (BFI), too, has put up a new selection policy that demands consistent performances from the boxers. There is no place for complacency. Hopefully, with new coaches, support staff and systems in place, Indian boxers will go on to make a mark in the Olympics next year.