Record boxing entries for Commonwealth Games
New Delhi: Home advantage notwithstanding, Indian boxers will have their task cut out when they take the ring in this year`s Commonwealth Games as a record 304 international pugilists are set to participate in the October 3 to 14 megaevent.
The bulk of the participation will come from the African region, which will have 118 boxers in fray, according to the continent wise entry list for the Games.
Among the Africans, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, are set to field full 10-member squads. In all, 18 African boxing teams will be seen in action at the Delhi Games.
Europe and Oceania are a distant second in the entry list with 45 boxers each.
European powerhouses England and Northern Ireland will have full 10-member squads in competition, while Scotland has so far committed to seven.
"It is going to be one of the biggest Commonwealth Games as far as boxing is concerned. The size of draws is going to be huge. The participation is unprecedented for any Games," the Tournament Director for boxing in this year`s Commonwealth games, Lenny D`Gama, told reporters.
"The countries are yet to send the name-wise list for the Games but it won`t be too long before they send that," he added.
From Oceania, strong contender Australia will field boxers in all 10 weight categories, while New Zealand will participate in eight divisions.
Given the huge number of entries, light weight (60kg) and welter weight (69kg) categories are set to have the toughest draws with 40 each.
The super heavy weight (+91kg) category is expected to have the smallest draw as only 17 entries have been received so far.
Indian boxers have a reasonably good record in the Games. Mohammad Ali Qamar (2002, Manchester) and Akhil Kumar (2006, Melbourne) won gold medals for India in previous two editions of the event.
In the Melbourne edition, Indian boxers fetched six medals. Apart from Akhil`s gold (54kg), Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh, a welter weight boxer at that time, clinched a silver.
The boxing competition of the Delhi Games would be held at the newly-constructed Talkatora Stadium. The dome-shaped arena played host to the Commonwealth Boxing Championships in March earlier this year.