The Indian campaign got off to a brilliant start at the “Giraldo Córdova Cardin” Memorial Boxing Tournament in Havana, Cuba, with Santosh Harijan (52kg), Kuldeep Singh (75kg), Manpreet Singh (91kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) registering victories to advance to the next round of the tournament. The Ramon Fonst multi-sports hall came alive with cheers for India as the Indian pugilists enthralled the crowd with a power-packed performance.
Santosh, in the fly weight category staged a stunning comeback to upset local lad, Orlandy playing for the Cuban ‘A’ team. After trailing in first two rounds 2:3 and 6:7, he answered back strongly in the third round. Santosh, a bronze medallist at the recently concluded 16th International Boxing Tournament in Almaty, Kazakhstan, displayed his skill in the craft with some exquisite combinations – A visual treat for the crowd. With the help of some accurate straight punches, uppercuts, body blows and sharp left hooks, the 23 year old got the better of his opponent by a fair margin of five points. The final score – 15:10 displayed on the board amidst chants of India, India, India echoing in the stadium. Santosh stunned the officials and spectators by his superb performance and got a standing ovation in return. He will now take on Artur Cremildo from Mozambique in the next round.
Santosh’s victory motivated the other Indian boxers in the fray and what followed was a clinical execution of skill and strategy. The reigning national champion in the middle weight category, Kuldeep ousted Aidarov of Kazakhstan in a one sided contest by virtue of points 14:7. He will now lock horns with Dominican Castillo Junior. Paramjeet a gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games and a bronze medallist Asian Games last year exhibited his supremacy as he beat Manuel Martinez of Cuba by a convincing point margin 25:6. Manpreet, a silver medallist at the 2010 Asian Games, also secured his place in the next round with a 14:8 win over Sammy Blyth of Australia. The 41st edition of the tournament, being played in the Cuban capital will witness nearly 100 boxers from 14 countries vying for glory in the traditional boxing powerhouse nation.