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World Boxing Championship: Pinki, Sarjubala spearhead Indian challenge

Suhrid Barua
FEATURED COLUMNIST
Modified 11 Nov 2014, 18:15 IST
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Pinki Jangra (blue)

The Indian women boxers will be looking to put their best foot forward at the upcoming Women's World Boxing Championships which will be held at Jeju, South Korea on Thursday. The Indian contingent is hamstrung by the absence of star pugilists – MC Mary Kom and Laishram Sarita Devi.

Expectations on Pinki Jangra in the absence of Mary Kom

Five-time world champion and Asian gold medallist Mary Kom decided to skip the World Championship due to a slight niggle and also due to the need to recharge her batteries for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Sarita, a former World Champion, on the other hand, is serving an AIBA ban for refusing to accept the bronze medal at the Incheon Asian Games.

The 13-day big-ticket event in Korea will see India bank on talented Pinki Jangra for a podium finish. Touted as the best medal hope, Pinki had picked up a bronze at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Incidently, she earned the place following a win over Mary Kom in the national trials in Patiala, but had to later make way for the iconic boxer as she lost the national trials for the Asiad.

Pinki, a quarter-finalist at the 2012 Women's World Boxing Championships in China, will box in the 51kg category. National champion Priyanka Choudhary, who replaced Sarita Devi in the 60kg category, is also talked about as a serious medal hope.

Sarjubala Devi – Manipur’s star

2011 World Youth champion Sarjubala Devi is another exciting prospect – she is probably the best thing to emerge in Manipur after Mary Kom and Sarita Devi and will be keen to box for a podium finish in the 48-kg category. The country’s lone medallist at the 2012 Women's World Boxing Championships in China – Kavita – will be again boxing in the 81+ kg category.

Home support for Korea 

National women boxing coach Anoop Kumar feels the Indian boxers will have their work cut out. “It will not be easy. Korean boxers are formidable and in front of their home crowd they will pose an extra threat. Chinese and the Uzbekistan pugilists will also be a hard but to crack and our girls will have to be at their best to outbox them.”

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Kumar agrees that the absence of Mary Kom and Sarita is a setback for the team. “You can’t do anything about it, can we? Both are vastly experienced campaigners and cannot be replaced overnight. Of course, their absence presents an opportunity for the others to push their cash for a permanent spot in the national side.”

He is hopeful of a few medals from the World Championships. “I’m expecting Pinki Jangra, Sarjubala Devi and Kavitha to make it to the podium. It does not mean that others cannot win a medal – all our boxers have worked hard and one hopes all their efforts pay off.”

The other members of the Indian team include Meenkumari Devi, Maisnam, Pwilao Basumatary, Pavitra, Neetu and Monica Saun.

The boxers were picked on the basis of their performances in the National Boxing Championships that was organised by Boxing India at Raipur, Chattisgarh from 11th to 16th October. It may be mentioned here that at the 2012 Women's World Boxing Championships in China Mary Kom had lost in the quarterfinals, while Sarita had bowed out in the pre-quarterfinals.

Squad: Sarjubala Devi Shamjetsabam (48Kg), Pinki Rani (51Kg), Meenkumari Devi Maisnam (54Kg) Pwilao Basumatary (57Kg), Priyanka Choudhary (60Kg), Pavitra (64Kg), Neetu (69Kg), Monica Saun (75Kg), Saweety (81Kg), Kavita (81+Kg). Coach: Swatantra Raj Singh (AIBA Star 3 Coach SAI), I Venkateshwara Rao (AIBA Star 3 Coach SAI), Sandhya Gurung (AIBA Star 1 Coach). Nirmolak Singh (AIBA Ringside physician, Hema Valecha (Physiotherapist SAI), R Rajendran (Manager).

Published 11 Nov 2014, 17:54 IST
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