Indian boxing has never looked so promising ahead of an Olympic Games. For the first time in the history of the Summer Games, nine boxers (five men and four women) will represent India in various weight categories. Success in Olympic boxing has been few and far between. Vijender Singh (Beijing 2008) and Mary Kom (London 2012) won bronze medals but this time, the sheer number of boxers qualifying for Tokyo 2020 on merit has been notable. Credit for this goes to the tireless work of high-performance director Santiago Nieva. The Swede, who has boxed for Argentina, has been the brain behind Indian boxing ever since he was given charge of both the men and women’s teams in September 2017. The 46-year-old, who quit the Swedish national team after Rio 2016, is currently in Italy with the Indian contingent. Excerpts from a conversation with Soumitra Bose:
What are you telling the boys and girls who are headed for Tokyo?
The most important thing is we are getting some good sparring in Assisi (in Italy) and are fully focused on Tokyo. We are fixing some issues that we see, not trying to change anything too much and concentrate on the good things we have done so far.
As the high-performance director, are you happy with India’s preparation for the Games?
In general terms, I am very happy because we have achieved a lot of things despite the pandemic that has been a very difficult period for us. We had cases in the camp and we had to cancel the women’s camp at one point. But we have been able...