CHENNAI: BARELY two weeks before the upcoming AIBA World Championships, the elite men boxers and coaches, who had been an anxious bunch in the last few weeks or so, are finally set to assemble for a national camp in NIS Patiala after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) got the green light to conduct the same from the Sports Authority of India (SAI). The boxers, 52 in total, are expected to arrive in Patiala from Tuesday onwards and could start with light training exercises.
As reported by this newspaper last Tuesday, the camp will see the introduction of fresh faces in the coaching staff with Narendra Rana taking over as the head coach. CA Kuttappa, who formerly occupied the post of head coach, will be part of the camp as 'coach (Coordination)'. Foreign coach Santiago Nieva, who was handed a two-month contract extension until December, will also be part of the group. Former champion boxers M Suranjoy Singh and L Devendro Singh are among the coaching staff. Both of them will look to instil fresh ideas to the pugilists.
Even though the camp came later than desired, some of the boxers had been training at their respective bases. As many as eight from Services, who are part of the team for the Worlds, were training under the close watch of Rana at the Army Sports Institute (Pune) the last few days.
The camp will go on until October 23 but the thirteen boxers, selected for the Worlds, could leave for Belgrade before that in order to get acclimatised there. According to the AIBA handbook, the opening ceremony and official draw will be conducted on October 24 and the bouts will begin a day later.
After a subdued show during the Olympics, this is a fresh cycle for Indian boxing. Despite the absence of big names like Amit Panghal, Nieva is encouraged by the talent in hand and is hopeful that they can show their mettle in the weeks to come.
"Most of them have been in the camp. We have seen them before. And there are new faces (at the international level). Guys like Akash (54kg) was impressive during the nationals. It will be interesting to see how they fare during the world meet," Nieva said.