Two time Youth National Champion Narender Berwal (+91kg) had to settle for a silver medal performance in the super heavy weight category at the AIBA Youth World Boxing Championships in Armenia. Berwal, the lone Indian boxer to have made it to the finals of the tournament, lost out to English boxer Hughie Fury in the championship round. But his performance in the competition helped him claim his maiden Youth World Championship medal, and that too in his first international tournament.
Narender, who recently turned 18, got a walk over in the semi-finals against Germany’s Florian Schulz. Schulz, who was responsible for eliminating tournament favourite Yohandi Toirac of Cuba, did not turn up for the fight in the round of four due to an injury. In the title clash Narender got off to a slow start; his glancing punches not being able to go through the defence of the English boxer. Fury on the other hand was able to sneak in the few crucial blows that allowed him to take a two point lead (2-4). He maintained his advantage at the end of the second round with both the fighters scoring two points apiece. Berwal tried hard to claw back into the game in the final round, but the English youth national champion, with his superior ring movement, did not give Narender many opportunities to get inside and do the necessary damage. In the end Narender lost his chance at a gold medal on points 6-10. Taking into the account the fact that this was Narender’s first international tournament, the Haryana lad did well to make a deep run in the championship and bag a silver medal. Coach-in-charge of the youth Indian boxing team G Manoharan referred to the Narender’s performance as praiseworthy, saying: “Narender gave a good account of himself in the tournament and although he lost in the finals, he has the potential to be groomed into a season fighter and I am sure we will see more of him in the future”.
Indian boxers will return from the tournament with one silver medal and two bronze medals. Earlier in the tournament, 2012 Tammer International Tournament winner Lalitha Prasad (49kg) and Sandeep Sharma (75kg), a bronze medallist at the 2010 International Invitational tournament in Kazakhstan had to settle for a bronze medal after losing out to their respective opponents in the penultimate round of the Championship. While Prasad was outdone by Bin LV of China, Sandeep went down to Magomed Madyiev of Russia.
Coach Manoharan although pleased with the overall performance of the team said that it was not totally up to his expectations. He stated, “We had expected at least two gold medals from the tournament, but one silver and two bronze medals is not bad considering we did not have a very experienced squad. For most of the boys this was their first major international tournament. There is obviously room for improvement, but on the whole it has been a decent tournament and the boys have shown promise”.