Vijender, Akhil return to boxing ring

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The star boxing trio of Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar will return to the ring when the national camp kicks off at NIS, Patiala from Oct 1.

Updated: September 19, 2008 09:12 IST
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New Delhi:

With euphoric celebrations of their power-packed Olympic performance finally settling, the star boxing trio of Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar and Jitender Kumar will return to the ring when the national camp kicks off at NIS, Patiala from October 1.

The Indian Boxing Federation's selection committee - headed by Dronacharya awardee O P Bhardwaj - has selected 60 pugilists for the month-long camp which may be extended by a week or two.

Vijender, who became the country's first ever Olympic medallist in boxing, is not too sure about joining the camp from the very start but says he would be there for as many days as he can manage from his now-packed schedule.

"I don't know whether I can be there from the very start but I am certainly not missing it. I will put in whatever number of days I can manage," the middleweight pugilist said.

However, Akhil (54kg) and Jitender (51kg), who created quite a flutter by beating more fancied opponents to reach the quarterfinals in Beijing, will be in Patiala almost six days in advance.

"Me and Jitu will be in Patiala by September 24 after attending the opening ceremony of the Asian Women's Boxing Championship," Akhil said.

"We have already started practising and therefore there is no harm in reaching in advance because it is better to be with the coaches than practice alone," he added.

The other two Olympians A L Lakra (57kg) and Dinesh Kumar (81kg), who crashed out in the first round in Beijing, will also attend the camp.

Indian pugilists have no major international engagement until next year and coach Gurbux Singh Sandhu said this gives the coaching staff ample time to finetune the seniors and groom the greenhorns.

"It is the first camp after Olympics and the boys are quite upbeat about it. The presence of Vijender, Akhil and Jitu will certainly inspire the others. It is going to be as rigorous as it has always been and hopefully we will have better boxers at the end of it," Sandhu said.

"For now, it's a month long camp but it may be extended to six weeks and we have already sought permission from the federation to do so," he added.

Olympian Diwakar Prasad was surprisingly put in the reserves list but Sandhu said the move was aimed at giving him time to recover from a brutal national campaign where he was almost knocked out in the second round before losing in the quarter-finals.

"He took some really brutal blows during the nationals therefore we decided to give him more time to recover. But he can join anytime he wants," he said.

The selected boxers comprise the national medallists and a few new names chosen by a panel that boasted of 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games gold medallist Mohd Ali Qamar and World Cup bronze medallist V Devarajan.

"Qamar and Devarajan gave vital inputs in the selection process and it was nice to have youngsters like them in the panel. Qamar especially made some good observations," Sandhu said of the 28-year-old light fly weight pugilist who was unsure about taking up the job when it was first offered.

The selected boxers:

48kg: Manwar Hussain, Vipin Kumar, Amandeep Singh, Sanjay Kolte.

51kg: Hemant Kumar, Ashwini Sharma, Mukesh Kumar M Suranjay Singh Jitender Kumar, Abhishek Saha.

54kg: Akhil Kumar, S K Thapa, Torak Kharpran, N santosh Kumar, S Suresh, P Narjit Singh, B Santosh Singh.

57kg: P C Chuanvwra, Manoj Bapu Pagare, Akshay Kumar, Chhotelal Yadav, A L Lakra.

60kg: Sanjay Tokas, Amandeep Singh, Vikas Malik, Rakesh Kalskar, Sanjay Kumar.

64kg: S B Tamang, Manoj Kumar, Vijay Thapa, S Prem Kumar, Satya Raju, Devanshu K.

69kg: Jagat, Dilbag Singh, Venkatesh, Jai Singh Patil.

75kg: Vijender Singh, Kuldeep Singh, G Thyagarajan, Parminder Singh, manjeet, Baljit Rathi.

81kg: Jasveer Singh, Sunil Ola, Dinesh Kumar, Parminder Singh, Mahindra Thapa, Digvijay Mehta.

91kg: Vinod Kumar, Narendra, Amandeep Singh, manpreet Singh, Gurlal Singh, Sukhwinder Singh.

+91kg: Rajendra Pal Singh, Arun Kumar, Ram Singh, Paramjeet Samota, Baljeet Singh.

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