New Delhi: Indian boxing is staring at a crisis of talent due to the ongoing international termination as it has severely damaged the domestic structure which throws up new pugilists, feels the country`s first Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and national selector Mohammad Ali Qamar.
Speaking to PTI here on the sidelines of the trials to pick the core group of women boxers for the Commonwealth Games in July-August, Qamar claimed the state of the sport right now is shocking to say the least. "The termination has been a huge shock for me. It was something that I had not thought, would happen. It is easily the worst phase for Indian boxing. The momentum we achieved after the 2008 Beijing Olympics has been lost," the Arjuna awardee lamented.
"Due to this suspension, there have been no National Championships for the past two years. So, we have a restricted pool to choose from which means a lot of talent which the Nationals throw up, has remained out of our sight," explained the boxer who rose to national fame by grabbing the light flyweight (48kg) gold at the 2002 Manchester CWG.
"Right now, we have to pick from the boxers who are there in the national camp and perhaps those who have just come out of the youth level. But if we had the Nationals, talent from all across the country would have come on one platform for the selectors to have a look and choose from," he added.
The Indian Amateur Boxing Federation was provisionally suspended back in December 2012 due to "possible manipulation" in its elections that year. The suspension was upgraded to a termination earlier this year after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) said that it was not satisfied with the progress made by Indian officials in resolving the matter.
Qamar, a quarter-finalist at the World Championships and the Asian Games besides a being national champion in his heydays, felt the matter should never have gone to the world body. "It should have been sorted here. We should have made the effort to resolve it among us. That would have been better for India because this termination is hurting us.
"Due to this ban, we have not been able to have Nationals, which in my opinion, is a huge setback because if the situation is not resolved soon, we will not have enough talent to choose from," said Qamar.
Qamar, whose promising career was cut short by injury setbacks, also spoke about the recent rule changes made in international boxing.
The changes include male boxers fighting without the protective head guard and a revamped 10-point scoring system which evaluates not just the connected punches but also the overall ring-craft of a pugilist. "These are excellent changes because boxing was becoming dull due to the previous scoring system which focussed only on connected punches," he said.
"Earlier, the boxers would just hide behind the shell guard after taking a small lead. Now, you have to prove your ability in not just landing punches but overall technique and foot-work. This is a much better and I am sure, it is good for our boxers, who just need greater exposure to adapt to these changes," he elaborated.
Asked whether Indian boxers would be able to match the unprecedented medal count they fetched in the previous edition of the Commonwealth and Asian Games, Qamar said, "They are talented enough to do that but it is sad that they would be competing under such circumstances."