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Boxer Lakra qualifies for 2008 Olympics

October 31, 2007 12:13 IST

A L Lakra became the first Indian pugilist to qualify for next year's Beijing Olympics after he defeated European silver medallist Shahin Imranov to advance to the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Championships in Chicago.

The Commonwealth champion beat Azerbaijan's Imranov 15-9 in the pre-quarterfinals of featherweight category at the University of Chicago's UIC Pavilion to make the cut for Beijing next year.

He now runs into Chinese Yang Li, who defeated Brazilian Davi Souza of Brazil 13-4, in Thursday's last-eight stage bout.

After Lakra's Beijing qualification, an elated Indian coach Gurbaksh Singh Sandhu was all praise for the Services boxer and hoped that two remaining Indians in the fray -- Jitender (51kg) and Jai Bhagwan (60kg) -- would also come through.

"This is an amazing achievement. We are all very happy and proud of what he has done. I am very confident about Jitender and Bhagwan as well and hopefully they would also advance to the quarters," Sandhu said.

It was a dominating performance by the Indian, who opened with a two-point lead before extending it to four by the end of the third round.

Lakra garnered four more points against Imranov's two in the final round to romp home comfortably.

Meanwhile, Jitender takes on Russian Georgy Balakshin in the pre-quarterfinals, while Bhagwan would be up against Colombian Darley Perez later today.

India had sent an eight-member team for the Championships but five of them -- including Asian Games bronze medallist Vijender (75kg) -- crashed out in the second round.

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