India’s biggest boxing tournament begins in New Delhi on Sunday

NEW DELHI, January 27: The Spicejet India Open gets under way here on Sunday, with as many as 223 boxers from 22 different countries eyeing the $100,000 prize money, the highest ever to be offered in the history of the sport.

India will aim to make its presence felt, fielding close to 80 boxers made up of four teams in the men’s and five in the women’s categories.

For the first time, boxing fans in the country will be able to see some of the finest boxers from Cuba, the big daddy of world boxing.

Cuban boxing has seen a resurgence in the last couple of years, after yielding ground to European nations, including Germany and Italy. The US, Canada, Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan have also produced top fighters in recent times.

Asia too has been cornering medals, with Thailand, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Mongolia excelling in international tournaments.

“This is India’s biggest boxing tournament. Our fans will be able to watch the world’s best in action right here in our country,” Ajay Singh, BFI president said. “I am sure India will win a number of medals and will continue to make an impact in world boxing,” he added.

Each gold medal will be worth $2,500, silver $,1000 and a bronze $500. There are 11 categories for men and 10 for women.

Among the foreign boxers to watch out for are Cuba’s most seasoned man, Rabi Armando Martinez, a pro boxer and son of former Cuban legend Artmando Martinez Senior.

Rabi is a former Cuban national champion and comes with loads of experience. Then comes Arisnoidys Despaigne, a 2013 AIBA World Boxing Championships silver medalist.

Despaigne, an orthodox boxer, refused to take the professional rout but excelled in the World Boxing Series last season in the 69kg category.

Aresene Fokou Fosso is an African Nations champ and three-time Cameroon national champ, apart from being an AIBA World Championship bronze medalist. He will be Africa’s Trojan in the +91 category.

Munkh-Erdene Uranchimeg is Mongolia’s flagbearer and boasts of a great show on the international circuit. Uranchimeg is a two-time world champ, Asian Games champ and a bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics.

Finland’s Potkonen Mira Marjut and Panama’s Bylon Atheyna, the lightweight and middleweight queens of the roped square, come with loads of experience and are determined not to return empty handed.

India’s challenge in the women’s event will be led by none other five-time World champion MC MaryKom. Sarita Devi,  Sonia Lather, Shashi Chopra and Pooja Rani will be the other ladies who will be aiming for the gold.

Forty Indian men will also be in fray, led by Shiva Thapa in the 60-kg class. Devendro Singh, Sachin Siwach, Manoj Kumar, Gaurav Solanki and  Mohammad Hussamuddin are the other boxers to watch for.