With the International Boxing Association (AIBA) scrapping a few weight divisions from the 2020 Tokyo Games, Indian boxers Amit Panghal, Shiva Thapa and Manish Kaushik will move to higher weight categories to sustain their Olympic dream.
AIBA has finalised the eight men's and five women's divisions for 2020.
The new weight categories finalised for men are 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg, while for women, the divisions are 51kg, 57kg, 64kg, 69kg and 75kg.
AIBA has also decided to introduce a bout review system from September, this year, allowingf to challenge decisions of a maximum of two bouts in a tournament.
The change means that Panghal, an Asian Games gold-medallist in 49kg, will now have to move to 52kg, while Thapa and Kaushik will have to forego the 60kg division and move up to the newly-created 63kg. Thapa is a three-time Asian Championships medallist and a world bronze-medallist, while Kaushik won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games last year.
"We were prepared for this, we knew that weight categories would be rejigged and the boxers will be making the transition after the Asian Championships next month. There is no other way, they have to increase their weight category if they want a shot at an Olympic medal," Indian Boxing's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI.
Panghal has already moved up after a gold at the Strandja Memorial last month. Thapa is currently in Helsinki, Finland, to compete in the 38th Gee Bee International Boxing Tournament, while Kaushik is in Germany for a training and exposure trip.
The tweak was necessitated following the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) diktat to expand women's boxing in Tokyo from the previous three weight categories -- 51kg, 60kg and 75kg -- to five.
The earlier Olympic men's categories were 49kg, 52kg, 56kg, 60kg, 64kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg, adding up to 10 in all.
Speaking about the transition for men, Nieva conceded "it won't be easy" but insisted that the Indian camp has enough time to adapt and be ready for the new divisions, which will be in place for the World Championships in Russia, also the first Olympic qualifying event.
"The boxers will have to adapt quickly but it's not that it's a challenge for just us. Every team will have to adjust we are not special. And I am sure we will do it," he said.
National men's coach C A Kuttappa agreed with Nieva's assessment and said boxers will be counselled before the big change.
"It is a period which is very fluid. We will figure out what they (the boxers) want, what's best for them and then accordingly take a call. It won't be easy for any of them because jumping weights always takes a toll," he said.
A slightly bigger worry is boxing's future as an Olympic sport. With the AIBA defying the IOC's call to remove Gafur Rakhimov as president due to allegations of financial crimes against him, there is no clarity on the sport's qualifying programme for the 2020 Games.
"All we know is that world championships will be the first qualifying event, beyond that, there is no clarity. It's a sensitive time and we are all hoping for the best," said Nieva.
The Asian Championships will be held in Bangkok from April 17 to 28, while the world showpiece is from September 7 to 21 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.
HC restrains IABF from using 'India' or 'Indian' in its name
The Delhi High Court passed an interim order on Thursday restraining Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) from using 'India' or 'Indian' in its name.
Justice Prathiba M Singh also asked IABF, which was in the process of conducting a national sub-junior men and women boxing championship, to inform all the participants that they are not a recognised national sports federation of boxing.
The court's interim order came on a plea by Boxing Federation of India (BFI) seeking permanent injunction against IABF from using word 'India' or its natural variations and from representing themselves as a national sports federation for boxing or that it is recognised by Indian Olympics Association, Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs and International Boxing Association (AIBA).
Advocates Hrishikesh Baruah, Parth Goswami and Hemant Phalpher, representing the BFI, submitted in the court that IABF was in the process of conducting national sub-junior men and women boxing championship in Jabalpur and was collecting money from boxers as entry fees.
BFI, which claims to be the recognised national sports federation for boxing in India, said IABF was misrepresenting itself as being affiliated with the IOA, which is factually an incorrect statement.
Besides IABF, its president Abhishek Matoria and secretary general Rakesh Thakran were also made parties to the suit.
The court perused a February 1 letter issued by IABF seeking to conduct the first sub-junior inter zonal men and women national boxing championship 2018-2019 in Jabalpur between March 10 and 13 and between March 12 and 15 respectively.