Vikas and the force of four!

Vikas and the force of four!

A record number of them booked Olympic berths in the very first qualifying event as Indian boxers rounded off another fine year, holding out promise of better things in the coming season.

The year did not feature many big events but wherever they competed in, Indian pugilists showed they were progressing along right lines with excellent performances. The World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan, was a case in point, with four boxers earning Olympic berths.

Vikas Krishan (69kg), Jai Bhagwan (60kg), Manoj Kumar (64kg) and L Devendro Singh (49kg) booked London berths at the mega-event, which was the first Olympic qualifying event for boxing. They beat some tough opponents to fulfill the qualification criteria of at least reaching the quarterfinals, but it didn’t stop there as Vikas went a step further to win the bronze.

Vikas ensured that  India did not go empty-handed. That performance was undoubtedly the highlight of the year for Indian boxing as the pugilists spent most of the 2011 in the national camp in Patiala.

“No one expected four of them to qualify for the Olympics from the World Championships because it had never happened before. So, it was a fantastic performance and certainly the highlight of the year,” national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu said.

For the biggest name in Indian boxing, however, it was a forgettable year. Vijender Singh, India’s only Olympic medallist in the sport, entered a new phase on the personal front by tying the knot in May but faced disappointment inside the ring. The 25-year-old fell at the first hurdle in the World Championships even though he did manage a gold medal at the World Police Games and a silver at the Arafura Games in Australia.

Professional boxing also knocked on the country’s door with the Mumbai-based Transstadia India Boxing Pvt Ltd clinching the Indian franchise for the World Series of Boxing. Christened the ‘Mumbai Fighters’, the team made its WSB debut this year with Akhil, Asian Championships bronze-medalist Jitender Kumar and some other names, who have decent performances at the amateur level to their credit.

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