Indian Boxing: The new generation announces its arrival in Serbia
India has long been an Asian boxing powerhouse, picking up medals at the Asian Games and other regional events. But it was at the turn of the century that Indian Boxing announced its arrival on the world stage. In 2002, Mohammed Ali Qamar became the first Indian to win a gold in boxing in the Commonwealth Games held at Manchester.
In the same year, an unassuming young girl from Manipur charted history by winning Gold at World Championship in Antalya, Turkey. Mary Kom followed it up with 4 more World Championship wins in the next 8 years. But the watershed moment for Indian boxing was the Olympic success in 2008 when Vijender Singh brought home a bronze. Boxing would never be the same in India.
Fast forward to July 2018, India finished on top of the medal tally at the 36th Golden Glove of Vojvodina youth tournament held at Serbia with a haul of 17 medals, 7 of them gold. Interestingly the medals were almost evenly shared between the boys and girls, reflecting how the sport had gained acceptance among both genders in India. Traditional powerhouses Russia and Kazakhstan took the 3rd and 2nd spot respectively.
Another positive that often gets overlooked is that a lot of medal winners for India are coming in from rural areas and small towns located in Haryana-Punjab all the way to the North East. It is amazing to see how the sport has made its way into the remotest of corners defying the rural-urban divide that often is blamed for the lack of opportunities.
Credit is due to the Government and Boxing Associations for identifying and grooming talent, providing opportunities and making the sport an attractive vocation for the youth. Meanwhile, the focus now shifts onto the Asian Games in Jakarta, for which a contingent of 10 (7 men and 3 women) has already been announced.