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Rio Olympics 2016: No-medal show reflects rot in Indian boxing

Country’s last hope in sport vanishes as Krishan goes down to Uzbek World No. 1 in quarters

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 11:13
Rio Olympics 2016: No-medal show reflects rot in Indian boxing
Chander Shekhar Luthra in Rio

Rio de Janeiro: It was a mismatch from the start. On the one hand, there was world No. 1 boxer from Uzbekistan, Bektemir Melikuziev, who’s out to seek Olympic glory. And, on the other hand, there was Vikas Krishan, who was only there to check whether he had actually learnt to fight against ‘southpaws’ or not.

The packed Riocentro Arena here was expecting a good fight between the two in this 75kg category. Going by the past record of Yadav where he gave a run for his money to the Uzbek pugilist in the Asian Championships in Bangkok last year, the young lad tried his best to attack the opponent in the first round. But as the three judges gave verdict in Uzbek’s favour, 30-27 (10-9 each), it was over and out for the Indian pugilist.

Yadav, who by then had given his all in his bid to gain an early advantage, was looking completely exhausted and left to the mercy of his superior opponent. The next two rounds were a mere punishment for the Indian as he lost 26-30 26-30.

Internal feud

With Shiva Thapa (56kg) and Manoj Kumar (64kg) having already bowed out, Yadav’s exit drew the curtains on the Indian challenge in the boxing ring here.

The same Indian boxing which came to the level of beating the best in the world in 2008 Beijing after Vijender Singh’s bronze, has now failed to make even a whit of an impression at the Games for the second successive time except for MC Mary Kom’s bronze in women’s category in 2012. The blame should only be apportioned to the officials, who in the name of forming different boxing federations in India, have ruined the sport completely.

Going by what Yadav said after his bout, one can imagine how Indian boxers have been suffering because of the internal feud of our so-called officials. “Lots have changed, and that’s what boxing is about. There’s a day-night difference between then and now, and the difference in power is also large. Even the opponents and my power varies, and that is what I work on during training also. It’s still not possible to improve since we don’t get to compete with quality opponents, courtesy the issues with the national federation,” was how Yadav summed up his fight with same opponent whom he ran close a year ago.

“But, I don’t want to blame the body, and if I’ve lost, its all on me. We were given enough exposure coming into the Summer Games, and I don’t want to play the blame-game. I’ve lost because I couldn’t get the job done, and somewhere down the line I didn’t train enough,” added Yadav, knowing well that the ad-hoc committee could well take revenge if he doesn’t take the blame.

Lack of exposure

The way Yadav was punished by his opponent, he should be given credit that he didn’t get knocked out in three rounds. This was simply not his fault. A year ago, he was almost equal to Melikuziev and lost only by a whisker.

But Yadav, like any other Indian boxer, didn’t get any exposure trip because Indian boxing federation has been under suspension for over two years. “I always have problems against southpaws. Be it the World Championships, the last Olympics, these Games or the Olympic qualifiers, I’ve lost to southpaws,” said Yadav.

When asked why he didn’t take any corrective measures to overcome his problem, Yadav added: “I did practice with the kids back home. But there are barely any southpaws in India. Only five per cent are southpaws, out of which I’m one. So I couldn’t train with quality left-handers. Moreover, we haven’t been to a camp for almost two years, and that has hampered progress. We did go to the US, but for fitness training.”

First Published: Wednesday, August 17, 2016 - 11:13

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