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Asian Games: Boxers aim to better medal count and grab Olympic berths

September 23, 2023 16:38 IST

Nikhat Zareen

Photograph: Kind courtesy Nikhat Zareen/Instagram

The coveted Olympic berths will serve as extra motivation to the India boxers when they step in the ring in the Asian Games here from Sunday, eager to better the two medals secured in the previous edition.

India have fielded a strong contingent led by two-time world champion Nikhat Zareen and Olympic bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain.

In the men's section, the trio of world championship medallists -- the experienced Shiva Thapa, Deepak Bhoria and Nishant Dev -- will look to add an Asian Games medal to their kitty and secure their passage to Paris.

Olympic Qualifier

The Asian Games are the first Olympic qualifying event for boxers from the continent. There are a total of 34 quotas up for grabs across the 13 weight classes.

In the women's events, the semifinalists in the 50kg, 54kg, 57kg, and 60kg while the finalists in the 66kg and 75kg will qualify for the Paris Games.


The gold and silver medallists in each of the seven weight divisions in the men's event will receive quotas.

Zareen handed difficult draw

The women's events have doubled from three to six since the 2018 edition, where the Indian female pugilists returned empty handed.

However, alongside Zareen (50kg) and Lovlina (75kg), world championship bronze medallist Parveen Hooda (57kg), Commonwealth Games medallist Jaismine Lamboria (60kg) and Preeti Pawar have shown the stomach for fight.

Zareen has been in scintillating form for the past two years. However, she has been handed a tough draw as she opens her campaign against two-time Asian Champion Nguyen Thi Tam of Vietnam in a rematch of March's World Championships final.

She could potentially face two-time world bronze medallist Chuthamat Raksat of Thailand in the semifinals.

Lovlina is still learning the tricks of the trade in the middleweight category having bulked up from 69kg.

Winning the Asian and World Championships in her new 75kg category has boosted her confidence and the Assam boxer has been working extensively on increasing her power and looks good for a medal.

The Assam boxer, who has been handed a first round bye, is one bout away from a medal, and she will face Seong Suyeon of Korea in the quarterfinals.

Jaismine has also received an opening round bye, and will begin her campaign against Saudi Arabia's Ashour HGS.

In the 66kg event, Arundhati Chaudhary has a tough first round as she has drawn reigning world champion local favourite Yang Lui.

Preeti will face Jordan's Alahasanat Silina while Parveen will take on Xu Ziehun of China in the 54kg and 57kg opening rounds respectively.

Easy draw for Shiva, tricky one for Deepak, Nishant

Shiva Thapa

Photograph: Kind courtesy BFI/X

Of the seven male pugilists competing, Shiva is the only one with prior experience of competing in the continental event. The six-time Asian Championship medallist will be keen to seal an Olympic quota having missed out on the Tokyo Games.

Shiva has been handed an easy draw and should reach the final. He is likely to face Chu-en Lai of Chinese Taipei in the semifinals.

Much will be expected from Deepak, who outperformed last time's light flyweight champion Amit Panghal to make the cut for the Games. The Hisar boxer has a penchant for fearless boxing and defeating some of the giants of the game.

Should he get past Malaysia's Muhammad Abdul Qaiyum Bin Affrin in his campaign opener, he will meet 2021 bantamweight world champion Tomoya Tsuboi of Japan.

Like Deepak, Nishant too impressed everyone with his boxing skills at the World Championships in May. He has a tricky draw. He will potentially face 2012 world champion Japan's Sewon Okazawa in the quarterfinals and if he wins, a rematch with world champion Aslanbek Shymbergenov in the semifinals is possible. The Kazakh had beaten Nishant at the Worlds semifinal in May.

The Asian Games features seven men's and six women's weight categories.

India had won two medals -- a gold and a bronze -- in the last edition in 2018.


Women: Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Preeti Pawar (54kg), Parveen Hooda (57kg), Jaismine Lamboria (60kg), Arundhati Chaudhary (66kg), Lovlina Borgohain (75kg).

Men: Deepak Bhoria (51kg), Sachin Siwach (57kg), Shiva Thapa (63.5kg), Nishant Dev (71kg), Lakshya Chahar (80kg), Sanjeet (92kg), Narender Berwal (+92kg). 

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