SSCB's Manjeet (right) lands a punch on Neeraj (Chandigarh) in the final of the 63 kg category. Manjeet won the bout on points.
Mizoram's Lal Dinmawia (bantam weight) received the Best Boxer award, while Maharashtra's Kallicharan Kharare (feather weight) was named the ‘Best Loser' as the under-16 boys from Haryana, Mizoram, Uttarakhand and Madhya Pradesh vied for top honours with the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) pugilists in the 27th National Junior Championships recently.
SSCB contested nine of the 13 finals spread across various weight categories at the Balewadi indoor stadium in Pune and won eight titles, its only loss coming in the 70 kg final, where Deepak Kadian went down to Deepak Sura of Haryana on points (13-15).
SSCB's champions were Ankur Banswal (46 kg), P. L. Prasad (48 kg), Naveen Kumar (50 kg), Sandeep Badri (52 kg), Manjeet (63 kg), C. Dadu Singh (6 kg), Sandeep Sharma (75 kg) and K. N. S. Rathore (80+ kg).
Deepak Sura gave up cricket to become a boxer upon watching the action from the ringside for the first time. According to his father Sukhbag Sura, Deepak took to boxing when he was in Standard IX and he hopes to represent India in major championships some day. “My role is to provide Deepak the backup; he has to do all the punching,” added Sukhbag.
With Akhil Kumar and Vijender Singh as their icons, the kids in Bhiwani and Sonepat are now familiar with boxing. Deepak enrolled himself in the Universal Boxing Academy in Hissar to further his career in the sport under coach Rajesh Sheoran.
That Deepak chose boxing ahead of cricket — which offers a lucrative career — does not bother Sukhbag. “Children today have many choices. There is money in cricket, but money isn't everything. If boxing continues to fascinate Deepak, he may end up realising his dream of representing India one day. The prestige associated with boxing in India is more valued in our society,” he explained.
SSCB's C. Dadu Singh (welterweight champion) initially faced some resistance at home for choosing boxing. “My father felt boxing was dangerous for children and he asked me to think again (over my decision),” said the Manipur lad, who played football and trained in judo like most kids from the north-east.
“The army unit I joined had facilities for boxing,” said Dadu Singh, a trainee at the Army Sports Institute (Pune). He underlined his dominance in the ring in Balewadi, unleashing a flurry of punches to his opponent Akshay Rawal's head in the 66 kg final before the referee stopped the contest.
Dinmawia is a good example of the natural boxing talent available in the north-east. Four other boxers from Mizoram — N. Lalbiakkima, Ronusanga, C. Lalchhanthuanga and Lalramtana — won bronze medals in the championship after entering the semifinals.
The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) is attempting to spread its target area by planning coaching clinics in states on a zonal basis.
“India's first world champion, Zoram Thanga, was from Mizoram. The performances of the Mizo youngsters are due to the work done by the Sports Authority of India centres there. We want to assist the state coaches, update techniques and prepare better teams by conducting zonal clinics,” informed Brig Muralidharan Raja, Secretary-General of IABF.
“We are trying to involve the National coach, G. S. Sandhu, now part of the AIBA Coaches Commission, and the Cuban coach, B. I. Fernandez, in the zonal clinics that are being planned,” he added.
46 kg: Ankur Banswal (SSCB) bt Amit Pangal (Haryana) 11-4
48 kg: P. L. Prasad (SSCB) bt K. Shyam Kumar (AP) 16-10
50 kg: Naveen Kumar (SSCB) bt Rakesh (Haryana) 10-6
52 kg: Sandeep Badri (SSCB) bt A. Silambarasan (TN) 11-7
54 kg: Lal Dinmawia (Mizoram) bt Arun (Uttarakhand) 17-8
57 kg: Deepak Pahal (Haryana) bt Kallicharan Kharare (Maharashtra) 9-8
60 kg: Sukhdev (MP) bt Sanjay Thapa (Uttarakhand) 8-7
63 kg: Manjeet (SSCB) bt Neeraj (Chandigarh) 10-9
66 kg: C. Dadu Singh (SSCB) bt Akshay Rawal (Uttarakhand) RSC
70 kg: Deepak Sura (Haryana) bt Deepak Kadian (SSCB) 15-13
75 kg: Sandeep Sharma (SSCB) bt Deepak Sheron (Haryana) 9-2
80 kg: Gurwinder Singh (Punjab) bt Jay Sayena (Uttarakhand) 18-11
80+ kg: K. Navneet Singh Rathore (SSCB) bt Rishabh Purohit (MP)