IBF Press Release
Fernandez the First Forein Coach to be Conferred with the Dronacharya Award

In a landmark decision the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports surpassed national boundaries to confer the†Dronacharya Award to a foreign national. Cuba’s Blas Iglesias Fernandez will become the first foreign coach to be awarded the country’s most prestigious award for coaches, for his persevering contributions in boxing.A 15 member selection committee headed by Olympian and former Indian hockey player Shri Aslam Sher Khan recommended eight names from a list of 53 nominations. Taking into account the outstanding contributions of Fernandez in the performance of the Indian Boxers at the international arena, including mega events such as the Olympic Games, World Championships, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games, the 56 year old Cuban has been approved for the award. Ordinarily not more than 5 Dronacharya awards are given in a calendar year. However, this being the year of Olympic Games and Paralympics the Government has decided to make an exception.

Fernandez, who has been associated with Indian boxing for more than two decades, started coaching in the late 70’s, before joining the Cuban national team as a Coach. His stint with the Indian boxing team started in 1990 and he has, ever since, been working in tandem with Chief National Coach GS Sandhu. Together the two have played an important role behind the paradigm shift witnessed over the years, in Indian boxing. Currently in National Institute of Patiala, Fernandez who is getting ready to soon head back home for a deserved vacation said,†“It’s a great honour for me to have been nominated and approved for this award. I am very happy to have received this recognition. The Dronacharya Award is very prestigious honour and I am proud to be included in the list of some great names”. Fernandez was taken by surprise when he first heard that he was being considered for the Dronacharya award.†“As you know this honour was only given to Indians, therefore I never expected it to receive it and was very surprised to know that I would be in the reckoning and be approved for it. I starting working with the Indian team 22 years ago, Its has been a long journey but a rewarding one and being the first foreign coach to receive it makes it all that more special, I am thankful to the Ministry (Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports), IABF (Indian Amateur Boxing Federation) and everyone for their support,”†expressed the Cuban.

Brig PK Muralidharan Raja, Secretary General, IABF said that Coach Fernandez, has been an instrumental cog in the development and success of Indian pugilists in the international circuit. He stated,†“We at the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation are very happy with the Ministry’s (Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports) decision to bestow this honour to Mr Fernandez. He has been working closely with the Indian boxing team, training our boxers for more than 20 years now and it is great to see him receive recognition for it”.

Apart from a statuette and a citation, Dronacharya Awardees will receive a cash prize of Rs. 5 lakh each. The awards will be given from His Excellency the President of India at a specially organized function at the Rashtrapati Bhawan on August 29, 2012.


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