Boxers aim high despite controversies back home

Kathmandu, January 13

Boxing has fallen in fresh controversy. The discipline with rich history has failed to win much accolade off late, although it saved Nepal’s blushes in the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou.

The new controversy is created by National Sports Council, which is supposed to help in preparations of players by all means.

At a time when the NSC is being criticised for delay in preparation for next month’s South Asian Games, the sports governing body came up with an unique idea of appointing head coach Om Maskey above chief coach Prachanda Sharma.

Amidst controversies, the team left for Bangkok on Wednesday for final preparation.

Sharma, who is appointed as the chief coach by the NSC three months ago, is looking after the team that will take part in the regional games slated for February 6-16, while Maskey has got the nomination letter as the head coach for the SA Games.

The off-field controversies have dogged Nepali sports in the past and the rows have been affecting on-field performances.

Creating problems and trying to be superior than others has become a tradition in Nepali sports, whether they are officials or coaches.

While the officials are busy in controversies, the players are sweating it out for the regional games, considered as the Olympics for Nepali athletes.

Boxing has never returned empty-handed in 11 editions of the regional sports extravaganza and coach Sharma expects at least two gold medals this time around.

“We are pinning hopes on two-three players in men’s section and a woman boxer to shine in the SA Games.

I am not going to name them as other players might be discouraged. As a coach, I have been training them and motivating all the 10 players to win medals,” says Sharma.

A total of 10 boxers, including two women, have been preparing for the Games. “The training went smoothly and I have seen a lot of improvements in these players.

They are prepared to fight for three rounds without any problem,” he says.

The women’s boxing is making its debut from the 12th SA Games.

The team will train for three weeks in Thailand and coach Sharma believes the boxers will be ready to enter the ring after the tour.

“We are taking them to Bangkok only to give the finishing touch. We don’t have sparring partners for the players here.

If we get to have at least 6-7 sparring in the three-week training, we hope the boxers will perform better in the Games,” says Sharma. “Otherwise, they are already fit  both physically and mentally  for their bouts.”

Sharma believes the only drawback for Nepali players is the lack of international exposure and the team needs to make strategy to beat Indian boxers to win gold medals. “India is the only team which is above us in the region.

The Indian boxers do not miss the European events, while we have to think thrice to participate in a tournament in nearby Thailand. And that is only because of the lack of budget,” he says.

“If we are to win gold medals in the SA Games, we need to focus on beating Indian boxers,” adds Sharma.

One of the gold medal hopefuls and the only player with the SA Games experience in the 10-member squad, Dinesh Shrestha says his target is to win medal in India.

“I had set a target for myself and I have been training accordingly. I have beaten opponents from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in the past, so the biggest hurdle is India,” says Shrestha, who believes Nepali boxing remained at the same level because of lack of sparring partners.

“I have put all my efforts in training and the Thailand tour will give us enough sparring to be ready for the SA Games,” adds Shrestha, who has participated in Asian Championships and World Championships.

“The local training is enough and we will do sparring in Thailand. I am confident of doing well in the regional games,” he says. “The draw also makes difference in boxing and I am hoping for a favourable draw.”

Another player, Saraswoti Rana Magar does not have any complaint regarding the training. “Four coaches have been putting in a lot of efforts on the players and we have responded well,” says the fifth-ranked boxer in Asia.

“I have participated in many international tournaments in the past and despite playing well I was not able to win medal for the country,” Rana Magar says. “But this time around, I am confident of winning one in the SA Games,” she adds.

Rana Magar also points out the lack of sparring partners as the main problem.

“We have to do sparring with different weight-category players here which does not help us in improving.

The association and coaches have arranged three-week training in Thailand and we all are hoping for the best,” says Rana Magar, who has participated in World Championship twice and 2014 Asian Games.

“We will get the opportunity of training with Thailand national players and that experience will definitely help us in performing better in India,” she says.

Like others, Rana also believes Indian boxers are the toughest ones. “I don’t see others as main threat.

If we can beat India, the gold medal is ours,” she says.