IBF Press Release
The London Challenge for Indian Pugilists

The XXX Olympiad will sever as a significant chapter in the history of Indian Boxing with a record eight pugilists representing the country at the biggest sporting show on earth - it is a clear indication of the exceptional growth the sport has witnessed since Vijender Singh’s bronze medal winning performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. And as the eagerly awaited spectacle gets underway in London, the men’s event in the boxing discipline is all set to open on Saturday (28 July 2012) at the ExCel arena – the largest competition venue at the 2012 Olympics. We take a look at the field of play and the biggest challengers the Indian pugilists might encounter as they stake a claim for Olympic glory.

Men’s Light Fly Weight (49kg)

Indian Challenger: L Devendro Singh

Qualification: 2011 AIBA World Championships, Baku, Azerbaijan.

2008 Olympic Champion: Zou Shiming (CHN)

2011 AIBA World Champion: Zou Shiming (CHN)

This diminutive dynamo from Manipur booked his ticket to London by making it to the quarter-finals of the 2011 World Championships at Baku, Azerbaijan – incidentally it was also his first international tournament at the senior level.  The 20 year old, who was the surprise pick for the World Championships squad, beat his more experience compatriots to get selected. At London, participating in his first Olympic Games, Devendro will have to contend with some top names in the business to make it to the medal rounds. One of the biggest contenders for an Olympic medal in his weight division is Chinese boxer Zou Shiming. The 30 year old has had an indomitable hold in the light fly weight division. He is a triple world champion (2005, 2007, 2011) and his also the defending champion for the Olympic title. Silver medal winner at the World Championships last year, 23 year old South Korean Jonghun Shin is another medal prospect and will look to challenge Shiming for the title. In a face off against the Indian boxer Shin will have the upper hand as he was responsible for ousting Devendro from the 2011 WC. Russian David Ayrapetyan, Puerto Rico's Jantony Ortiz Marcano, Patrick Barnes from Ireland, Italian Manuel Fabrizio Cappai and Cuba's Yosbany Veitia Soto all are proven talents and would prove to be worthy opponents.

Men’s Bantam Weight (56kg)

Indian Challenger: Shiva Thapa

Qualification: Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Astana, Kazakhstan

2008 Olympic Champion: Badar-Uugan Enkhbat (MGL)

2011 AIBA World Champion: Lazaro Alvarez Estrada (CUB)

Even before the London Games, Shiva Thapa made the headlines of every news paper and TV channel in the country, by becoming the youngest ever Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics. All of 18 then, Shiva, did not just qualify, but went on to win the gold medal at the qualifying tournament in Astana. The young prodigy from Assam, who claimed some big scalps en route to the finals, including Athens Olympics silver medallist and 2010 Asian Games winner Worapoj Petchkoon of Thailand, will once again look to give his best as he makes his debut at the Olympic Games. 21-year-old Cuban Lazaro Alvarez Estrada will be the favourite, after a sensational performance at the 2011 World Championships, where he bagged the gold medal. Another boxer to look out for would be 2011 WC runner up, Luke Campbell from Great Britain. Two times World Championship bronze medal winner (2009, 2011) John Joe Nevin from Ireland is another spirited boxer who has the skill to run deep in the tournament.  Tajik boxer Anvar Yunusov and Kazakhstan's Kanat Abutalipov also have the capabilities to do some serious damage.

Men’s Light Weight (60kg)

Indian Challenger: Jai Bhagwan

Qualification: 2011 AIBA World Championships, Baku, Azerbaijan

2008 Olympic Champion: Alexey Tishchenko (RUS)

2011 AIBA World Champion: Vasyl Lomachenko (UKR)

Jai Bhagwan was the third Indian boxer to have qualified for the London Olympics at the 2011 World Championships, the first Olympic Qualification tournament – A dream which was realized after two unsuccessful attempts and an eight year long weight. After missing out on the 2004 Athens and 2008 Beijing Games, the two-time Asian Championships medallist and a bronze winner at the Delhi Commonwealth Games, is keen on making the most of this opportunity. The field of contention in the light weight category is highly competitive and it would take nothing short of an exceptional performance from the 27 year old to make it into the medal rounds. Vasyl Lomachenko of Ukraine is arguably one of the most skilled and accomplished amateur boxers of recent times. A two time world champion (2009 and 2011) and a gold medal winner at the 2008 Beijing Olympics (Feather weight), Lomachenko is the favourite for title this year again. Cuba's Yasnier Toledo Lopez – whom Lomachenko defeated at the 2011 Worlds – is seen as one of the biggest challengers to the Ukrainians bid for a second Olympic gold. Then there are name like Domenico Valentino, Italy's 2009 World Champion & 2011 WC bronze medal winner along with Kazak Gani Zhailauov also a 2011 WC bronze medal winner, Brazilian Robson Conceicao and Evaldas Petrauskas from Lithuania who all will add to the mix in the light weight division

Men’s Light Welter Weight (60kg)

Indian Challenger: Manoj Kumar

Qualification: 2011 AIBA World Championships, Baku, Azerbaijan

2008 Olympic Champion: Félix Diaz (DOM)

2011 AIBA World Champion: Everton Dos Santos Lopes (BRA)

Manoj Kumar missed the opportunity to make it to the Beijing Olympics by a whisker. This time though the 25 year old made amends and was the first Indian boxer to qualify for the London Games at the first Olympic Qualifying Tournament. He made the cut by making it to the quarter-final stage of the 2011 World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan. Manoj, a veteran of the sport, came to limelight after winning gold medal at the Commonwealth Games 2010 in New Delhi. Among others, he also has a bronze medal at the 2007 Asian Boxing Championship and another bronze in the 2009 Czech Grand Prix. The light welter weight division also boasts of strong field of contention. The top two players from the 2011 World Championships, Everton Dos Santos Lopez from Brazil and Ukraine's Denys Berinchyk made big impressions in the tournament and can be expected to come out all guns blazing at the ExCel arena. Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Cuban Roniel Iglesias Sotolongo is also in the fray and cannot be underestimated. European Champion and bronze medallist from the World Championships Thomas Lee Stalker from England is another promising talent. It was him, who beat Manoj at the 2011 WC in the quarter-finals. Kazak boxer Daniyar Yeleussinov who bagged the gold at the Asian Olympic Qualifying Event in Astana is another threat and can prove dangerous.

Men’s Welter Weight (69kg)

Indian Challenger: Vikas Krishan

Qualification: 2011 AIBA World Championships, Baku, Azerbaijan

2008 Olympic Champion: Bakhyt Sarsekbayev (KAZ)

2011 AIBA World Champion: Taras Shelestyuk (UKR)

Vikas Krishan Yadav entered the record books when he became only the second Indian boxer to win a medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan – a tournament in which he also attained the Olympic qualification. In his very first international tournament at the senior level, the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, he went on to bag the light weight title and asserted himself as one of the next generation boxers of India. He is considered one of the most talented Indian boxers of recent times. The 20 year old, who would be playing only his second major international tournament in the welter weight division, is expected to encounter some fierce competitors. The reigning world champion Taras Shelestyuk of Ukraine, will be the man to beat. The 26 year old is in peak from after bagging the European Championship bronze medal and the world title. He also beat Vikas in the semi-finals at the 2011 WC.  Kazak boxer Serik Sapiyev, a double AIBA World Champion in light welterweight and silver medallist at the last edition in Baku, also has the potential to claim the title. Egidijus Kavaliauskas from Lithuania's, also a bronze medallist at Baku, has shown great improvement and can prove to be tricky. Alexis Vastine of France will look to better his bronze medal performance from Beijing Olympics. Welshman and European Champion Freddie Evans is another medal contender. Ireland's Adam Nolan, Germany's Patrick Wojcicki and Brazilian Myke Ribeiro De Carvalho are also boxers to look out for in the welter weight class.

Men’s Middle Weight (75kg)

Indian Challenger: Vijender Singh

Qualification: Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Astana, Kazakhstan

2008 Olympic Champion: James DeGale (GBR)

2011 AIBA World Champion: Ievgen Khytrov (UKR)

Vijender Singh’s bronze medal winning performance at the Beijing Olympic Games was a turning point in the history of Indian boxing. In more one way he has contributed greatly towards the growth and popularity of the sport in India. He has paved the way for future generations and given Indian pugilists the belief of making it big. The 26 year old, who post London will have the unique distinction of being the only Indian boxer to participated in three Olympics, has never had it easy qualifying for the Games. This time as well he made the cut in the second and final qualifying tournament. At the Excel arena in the British capital, the 2010 Asian Games gold medallist will look to create history as he tries and better his Olympic performance. But it would be Ukraine's Ievgen Khytrov, the reigning world champion, who comes in as the tournament favourite. Japan's Ryota Murata would be keen to me amends after losing out to Khytrov in the WC finals at Baku. Vijender’s old rival, 2009 AIBA World Champion Abbos Atoev of Uzbekistan will also be in the running and looking to clinch his first Olympic medal. 2010 European Championships silver medallist Darren O'Neill of Ireland and 2010 Commonwealth Games silver medallist Anthony Ogogo of England are both in with a good chance as well.  

Men’s Light Heavy Weight (75kg)

Indian Challenger: Sumit Sangwan

Qualification: Asian Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Astana, Kazakhstan

2008 Olympic Champion: Zhang Xiaoping (CHN)

2011 AIBA World Champion: Julio la Cruz Peraza (CUB)

Part of the young brigade of the Indian Contingent, Sumit Sangwan along with his teammate Shiva, qualified for the London Olympics after bagging the light heavy weight title at the AIBA Asian Olympic Qualifiers in Astana, Kazakhstan. The 19 year old beat seasoned boxer, 2010 Asian Games silver medallist and Olympian, Dinesh Kumar to make his place in the Continental Qualifiers. The nimble footed Sangwan, a not so common attribute in the light heavy weight cadre, could prove to be the dark horse in his weight division. But the favourite will certainly be the reigning World Champion Julio La Cruz Peraza from Cuba. After a dominating performance at the 2011 Worlds, the American continental silver medallist would look to scale the Olympic heights in London. But, silver medallist at Baku Adilbek Niyazymbetov from Kazakhstan, could prove to be a difficult challenge for La Cruz Peraza and the other boxers in the draw. Russia's 2009 AIBA World Champion Egor Mekhontcev and Elshod Rasulov from Uzbekistan both bagged the bronze at Baku last year and will be looking to finish with top honours in London. Promising Australian star Damien Hooper, who lost to La Cruz Peraza in the quarter-finals at Baku by just one point, would also be looking to create a flutter. Brazil's Yamaguchi Falcao Florentino a bronze medallist the Baku World Championships is another boxers who is capable of causing a few upsets.

Women’s Fly Weight (51kg)

Indian Challenger: MC Mary Kom

Qualification: AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships Qinhuangdao, China

2011 AIBA World Champion: Ren Cancan (CHN)

Five times world Champion and the reigning Asian Champion, MC Mary Kom is the lone Indian woman boxer to have qualified for the Olympics. Mary has carved a niche as the leading figure in the sport in India and across the boxing world. She is inarguably one of India’s best bet for a medal at the London Olympics. Mary, who has won world titles in the pin weight and the light fly weight, changed her weight division to fit into the Olympic weight categories. She has won every title the sport hast to offer, but for the Olympic medal. With women’s boxing making its Olympic debut in London this year, the 29 year old will look to realize her Olympic dream. Her main rivals at the London Games are three time world champion Ren Cancan of China and European Champion and three time world championship silver medallist Great Britain's Nicola Adams.


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