New Delhi: The two-year AIBA ban on coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez and his subsequent departure for home will not affect Indian boxing much as the sport will move on, Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning pugilist Akhil Kumar asserted Tuesday.
"I was very close to Fernandez. He is a very good and professional coach. He is the only foreigner to win the prestigious Dronacharya award for coaching. The way I see it, if he stays, it is good but even if he is not there, the sport will move on," Akhil said here during a promotional event by cosmetics major Oriflame.
The Cuban, who has coached Indian boxers for more than 20 years, was banned by the International Boxing Association (AIBA) for supporting Sarita Devi during the 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
Sarita had refused to accept the bronze medal at the podium during the ceremony after her controversial semi-final loss. While Sarita was handed a one-year ban, Fernandez was banned for two years. He left for home recently.
"The thing is, Fernandez is there because of boxing and not the other way around. The advantage of having someone like him is that since he has coached for so long, he knows and understands the players. That way he can benefit the boxers," said the 33-year-old, who won the CWG gold in 2006.
"But boxers as well as coaches keep changing. To be honest, to say that Fernandez's going will drastically affect the Indian boxing scene would be wrong. Indian coaches are also very good and have worked very hard. I repeat, if he stays, it will be good but even if he leaves, boxing will still continue."
On the personal front, Akhil said he is aiming for qualification at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics after failing to do so in 2012.
"Not just me, but everyone is aiming for the Rio Olympics. That is the only aim ... to qualify for the quadrennial event," he said.
"I am trying like I always have. First there is the Asian Championships followed by the World Championships. Good performances in these will get us qualification for the 2016 Games," said the Arjuna awardee.