CHENNAI: Raffaele Bergamasco has had quite an impact on Indian women’s boxing since his arrival in 2017. With his affable nature and nose for details, the Italian coach has inspired many pugilists in the country.
Having started out with the youth team, he has helped women stand toe-to-toe against the cream of the sport. Under his watch, Indian youth girls had made history with five gold and two bronze medals in the 2017 AIBA Youth Women’s World Championships. That outcome had compelled the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to promote him as performance director of the senior women’s team, the post that he currently holds. That has been quite a successful one too. Only last year, the women’s team had grabbed the headlines during the World Championships. And earlier this year during the Asian Championships, the women returned with a haul of six medals. Having ticked the right boxes so far, his next target is the Olympics.
It should be noted that not a single woman could make the Olympic cut last time. Bergamasco is looking to change that. “I’m happy with the preparation. Next year will be an important year with Olympic qualifiers. All the girls have that in their minds and we are trying to focus more on the Olympic categories,” the 48-year-old said.
With the International Olympic Committee (IOC) taking over the sport, there are no Olympic quotas on the line in the upcoming World Championships (October 3-13) in Russia. But how Indians perform could speak volumes. “I won’t deny that Worlds will be a tough competition. The selected boxers will try to do everything in their power to get the desired outcome.”
Not long ago, the sport was staring at an uncertain future with the International Boxing Association (AIBA) being banned by the IOC. Recently, IOC disclosed certain things like the weight categories, qualifying window. “The uncertainty surrounding AIBA has upset our preparation programme. There are many back-to-back important events with less time for recovery. I will sit with the boxers to device best strategy to enter key tournaments in best possible shape.”
With many boxers in the national camp from various states, it is quite a task for Bergamasco and the other Indian coaches to keep a close eye on each one of them. Bergamasco shed some light on how he goes about his business. “Each girl is unique. I try and sit with each one of them and work on their shortcomings. Secondly, I try to understand their thought process, look to bring out their potential, especially when they are experiencing a tough phase.”