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    Indian junior boxing team leaves for World Championships

    New Delhi (PTI): Hoping to improve on the two golds and a silver medal they won the last time around, an eight-member Indian boxing team, comprising mostly rookies, today left for the World Junior Championships starting May 23 in Yerevan, Armenia.

    The three medals Indians grabbed in the last edition of the event held in 2007 in Baku, Azerbaijan was their best-ever performance at the prestigious event, which will have a record 300 boxers from 50 countries vying for the top honours this year.

    The World Junior Championships were formerly called the Cadet World Championships and Vipin Kumar, in 2007, became the first Indian to lift the 'Best Boxer' trophy in the event.

    Of the eight Indian boxers travelling to Yerevan, only one has an international medal under his belt but all of them are gold medallists in their respective categories at the national level.

    A lot is expected of light bantam weight (52kg) pugilist Shiva Thapa, who won a gold medal at the prestigious junior event Hyder Aliyev Cup in Azerbaijan earlier this year.

    National junior coach M S Dhaka said the team might comprise mostly rookies but it will certainly better the 2007 performance.

    "It will be a very tough competition because a record-breaking number of boxers are coming but I am confident that the performance will be better than 2007," Dhaka told PTI.

    "Every category until the light weight (60kg) will have 25 boxers in the draw. There will be 20 boxers in the draws of heavier categories. Cuba and Russia are obviously the favourites...then there are other powerhouses like Kazakhstan.

    But we are no less...Shiva is obviously a big hope. Besides, Mandeep Jangra (60kg) is an internationally untested but brilliant boxer," he added.

    Mandeep is the prodigy of Beijing Olympics quarter-finalist and World Cup bronze medallist Akhil Kumar.

    He was not in the initial list of boxers selected for the event but was added to the squad after trials in Aurangabad, earlier this month.

    "During the trials, he overwhelmed senior boxers, that too from heavier categories. He has a fantastic built and is definitely a bright prospect for the future," said Jaidev Bisht, assistant coach of the senior boxers.

    The team: Sandeep (46kg), Gaurav Bhiduri (48kg), Namit Bahadur (50kg), Shiva Thapa (52kg), Vikas Khatri (54kg), Kuldeep (57kg), Mandeep Jangra (60kg), Sumit Sangwan (70kg).

    Coach: M S Dhaka.


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