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Indian coaches supervising national camps as Boxing Federation of India yet to decide on appointments of foreign experts

Indian boxer Sanjeet (L) in action at Asian Boxing Championships
Indian boxer Sanjeet (L) in action at Asian Boxing Championships
Navneet Singh

National camps for elite boxers started in the first week of this month, but the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) is yet to reach a decision regarding the appointment of foreign experts. The national camps in both men and women’s categories will conclude March 14.

According to a senior BFI official, during the virtual executive board meeting of the BFI held earlier this week, the appointment of foreign coaches for elite men and women’s national squad wasn’t on the agenda. The virtual meeting was chaired by BFI president Ajay Singh.

“The BFI members are yet to make a final decision on whether to appoint foreign experts to prepare elite Indian boxers for the upcoming international competitions, including the Birmingham Commonwealth Games,” the BFI official said. “As of now Indian coaches are supervising the national camps.”

The BFI appointed Narendra Rana as chief coach of the men’s elite boxing team while Bhaskar Bhatt is the head of the elite women’s boxing team.

However, the BFI is yet to decide whether to renew the contract of India’s high-performance director Santiago Nieva from Sweden.

Nieva was brought in in April 2017 to prepare the Indian elite boxing team for the Tokyo Olympic Games. However, BFI wasn’t satisfied with his performance during the 2021 Olympic Games.

Five Indian boxers qualified for the Olympics in the men’s group. But none could earn a podium finish at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Games held last year.

Overall, nine Indian boxers made the cut for the Tokyo Games. Only Assam’s Lovlina Borgohain won bronze in women’s 69kg weight category.

Nieva’s contract was extended in September 2021 for three months until November.

“Since Nieva’s name hasn’t been recommended by BFI to the sports ministry for renewal of his contract, the foreign coach went home in December last year," said a national coach. "If he gets an approval from the BFI, he will come back."

The elite men’s national coaching camp started on January 3 in Patiala and will continue until March 14.

Service top boxers Amit Panghal, Satish Kumar and Manish Kaushik are among 63 players shortlisted for the men’s boxing national camp. The players are expected to join the camp by this weekend.

Meanwhile, some of the boxers selected for the men’s camp have tested positive for COVID-19 and have been isolated.

The national women’s camp is being held at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Complex Sports in New Delhi.

Italian boxing expert Raffaele Bergamasco, who was overseeing the elite women's boxing camp, quit his job in November last year. He was unhappy with BFI’s decision not to renew his contract for the 2022 season.

The national camp for the U22 national team is also in progress in Patiala (men) and New Delhi (women).

The Indian team will compete in the Asian U22 Boxing Championship scheduled to be held at Tashkent from January 20


Edited by Sudeshna Banerjee

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