The quest for Olympic glory for four Indian boxers has just received a major impetus in the form of scholarships from the International Olympic Committee. Shiva Thapa, Mandeep Jangra, Sumit Sangwan and Gaurav Bidhuri were selected by the international organisation, on recommendation from the Indian Olympic Association, according to Times of India.
The scholarship grants $800 to each pugilist per month until August 2016, the time of the mega-event, contingent on the four qualifying for the Olympics. It also includes $5000 to cover their plane tickets and other transportation costs to the ensuing Olympic qualifying events.
Shiva Thapa has been India’s best hope for an Olympic medal for a while, narrowly missing out on a berth when he settled for a bronze medal at the AIBA World Championships in Doha earlier this year. Aged 19, he became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics when he participated in the London Games in 2012.
Thapa also won a silver medal in the 2010 Youth Olympics and is currently the 3rd ranked Bantamweight (56 Kg) in the AIBA rankings.
Mandeep Jangra (69 Kg), was a silver medallist in the 2013 Asian Championships and the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. He competes in the Welterweight category.
Sumit Sangwan (82 Kg) and Gaurav Bidhuri (52 Kg) have competed in the AIBA-backed World Series of Boxing. The former, a light-heavyweight, has made it to the 2012 Olympics and the quarterfinals of the World Championships in 2013. He was part of the USA Knockouts franchise in the WSOB.
Bidhuri, is a pint-sized dynamo who competes at Flyweight (52 kg) and was part of the erstwhile Mumbai Fighters, the only Indian franchise in the WSOB. The outfit folded due to financial constraints. He was part of the 2011-12 champions, the Italia Thunder, notching his belt thrice, on the trot.