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Boxers disappoint, but Mary saves India the blushes

Last updated on: August 11, 2012 17:29 IST

Boxers disappoint, but Mary saves India the blushes

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Harish Kotian

India's boxers came to London with the promise of delivering a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics, but flopped. Woman boxer MC Mary Kom, however, saved the blushes by finishing with a bronze on debut. Rediff.com's Harish Kotian analyses what went wrong.

India's boxers came to London with the promise of delivering a gold medal at the 2012 Olympics. But all hopes were ground to dust as they failed to deliver, winning just a solitary bronze.

- London Olympics 2012 - Complete coverage

The eight-member team for the Games, comprising seven men and a woman, was rated strong enough to win a few medals following fine performances at the international level over the last two years, but its failure to deliver has come a shock to aficionados of the sport in India.

- London Olympics 2012 - Complete coverage

Woman boxer MC Mary Kom India saved the blushes, though, by finishing with a bronze on debut, after losing to Nicola Adams of Great Britain in semi-finals.

In the process she, however, created a piece of history, becoming only the third Indian woman to win a medal at the quadrennial extravaganza.

Her male counterparts' failure to win even a single medal is, however, strikingly discernible.

Devendro Singh and Vijender Singh narrowly missed medals after losing in the quarter-finals. Both were apparently victims of some dubious judging. In fact, most of the Indian boxers bowed out in controversial circumstances as question marks were raised over the scoring system in the bouts figuring Sumit Sangwan and Manoj Kumar, while Vikas Krishan's result was overturned following an appeal by his opponent, Errol Spence of the United States.


Image: Mary Kom
Photographs: AP Photo/Mike Groll

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'I believe we deserved at least two medals'

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India's Cuban boxing coach Blas Fernandez was dismissive of the refeering and judging. He feels it is because of their unfair scoring that his wards were unable to win a few medals.

"The referee was very poor. The opponent was clearly holding, but he didn't say anything," Fernandez said after Devendro's defeat.

Beijing Games bronze medallist Vijender, who was a big medal hopeful, lost to Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan in controversial circumstances, and some officials within the Indian camp believe he should have won the bout.

"We went back to our room and saw the bout in slow motion, analyzing each and every punch. Even coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu who saw the replays believes the bout should have been ruled in our favour," said PKM Raja, deputy chief de mission of the Indian contingent in London. He is also the secretary-general of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation.

"The performance has been brilliant, and all the seven boxers did a very good job. I think at least four boxers should have won their bouts, which means at least two medals would have come easily. I believe we deserved at least two medals," he added.

Image: (Left to right): Blas Fernandez, Hari Shankar Varma, Shiva Thapa, Gurbax Singh Sandhu, Jaidev Bisht
Photographs: Hari Shankar Varma (Physiotherapist - Indian national boxing team)

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'I am responsible for being unable to bring medal-winning performances'

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Raja said they were in a helpless situation. He believes that if judges had ruled fairly then India would have won a couple of medals in the sport.

"Devendro's bout should have come us, Manoj Kumar's bout should have come to us, Sumit Sangwan's bout should have definitely come to us too. So, in my opinion, all these bouts we didn't get, and, therefore, if you don't get these bouts, how do you get the medals? You can only get medals if the judges give the right decisions, but if we are not getting them then we can't do anything about it," he added.

National coach Sandhu tried to look beyond the controversies and hailed his young team for their showing. He said he was proud of his boys, adding he takes responsibility for the failure of his wards to deliver a medal.

"I am extremely happy with the overall performance of the Indian boxers. I am very sad because I think I am responsible for not being able to translate those performances into medal-winning performances," Sandhu said.


Image: Gurbax Singh Sandhu with boxer Devendro Singh
Photographs: Hari Shankar Varma (Physiotherapist - Indian national boxing team)

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'I am sure they will win a lot of medals in the future'

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He paid rich tribute to M C Mary Kom, who came out of retirement to ensure Indian boxing returned with at least a medal from successive Games.

"We had come for medals. We are very grateful to Mary who has come to our rescue and got a medal," Sandhu said.

He felt the young Indian team gained a lot of experience and learnt a few important lessons for the London outing.

"We had three teenagers in our team in Shiva Thapa, Sumit Sangwan and Devendro. All of them did extremely well and this experience will help them a great deal in the future."

He requested the sponsors to continue their support.

"I hope the sponsors continue to support us in the same way and not turn away because we have not won any medals. I can assure you that this team will go a long way in the future.

"We had three teenagers in our Olympic squad and if we had the luck on our side then definitely we would have won medals, but I am sure they will win a lot of medals in the future."

Regarding his own future, he claimed that he would return to India and discuss his role with the federation.

"I will go back, review what happened and speak to the federation and then take a decision. I never said that I wanted to leave, because boxing is part of my life."

Image: Sumit Sangwan
Photographs: Murad Sezer / Reuters

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