BFI plans to introduce headgear for men’s competition during upcoming national championship

Satish Kumar in action during the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Satish Kumar in action during the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) plans to introduce headgear at the Senior National Men’s Boxing Championship starting September 15 in Karnataka. The initiative is aimed at reducing the incidence of cuts in the competition.

Hemanta Kalita, secretary general of the BFI, said:

“There is a proposal to introduce headgear at the upcoming senior national men’s boxing championship starting September 15 in Bellary. The final decision will be taken during BFI’s virtual meeting scheduled on Friday. There is a 95 percent chance that headgear will be introduced at the senior national tournament.”

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) first introduced the headguard for men’s competition at the 1984 Olympic Games. In 2013, the AIBA decided to remove headgear for the World Championships in Almaty. It was also dropped from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. But headgear is still used for women’s competition.

Headgear discussions began after Tokyo Olympic face cuts

The issue of headgear was up for discussion during the boxing competition at the Tokyo Olympics. The number of face cuts suffered by competitors was significant, said a medical expert associated with the BFI.

India’s Satish Kumar also suffered cuts to his forehead and chin in his pre-quarterfinal bout in the heavyweight category. He had to get stitches above the right eye and chin. Badly bruised, he couldn’t recover to give his best in the quarterfinal round, which he lost.

The national tournament is being held after a gap of two years due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Boxers from more than 25 state units and departmental teams are expected to compete at the senior national tournament being organized at Bellary’s Inspire Institute of Sports in Karnataka.

The upcoming national tournament might not attract India’s elite boxers who competed at the Tokyo Olympics. The nine-member boxing national squad, including four in the women’s group, competed at the Games. Commenting on the no-shows, one national level coach said:

“Post the Tokyo Olympic Games, Vikas Krishan had a shoulder surgery. It wouldn’t be possible for him to come back to ring post-surgery. It might take three to four months before he would be able to compete again.”

Of the nine-member national squad, India won one bronze medal, thanks to Lovlina Borgohain in the women’s category.

Five male boxers, including Amit Panghal, world silver medalist in men’s 52kg, returned empty-handed from Tokyo.

During the national competition, the BFI selection panel will also select boxers for the next month’s World Boxing Championships scheduled to be held in Belgrade from October 24.

Promising a better turnout at that event, Hemanta said:

“We expect all the boxers to compete at the national tournament.”

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Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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