Commonwealth Games medal-winners M Suranjoy Singh and L Devendro Singh, whose stellar boxing careers were cut short by injuries, have been roped in as coaches for men by the national federation ahead of this month’s World Championships. (Other Sports News)
The 29-year-old Devendro and the 35-year-old Suranjoy are among 14 coaches that have been short-listed for the national camp in Patiala, starting this week. The mega-event, featuring over 600 boxers from more than 100 countries, begins on October 24 in Belgrade, Serbia.
The other prominent names in the coaching staff are head coach Narender Rana, former junior coach M S Dhaka, the seasoned Dharmendra Yadav and former boxers Diwakar Parsad and Torak Kharpan among others. The development was confirmed to PTI by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) Secretary-General Hemanta Kalita.
Interestingly, both Suranjoy and Devendro have trained under Dhaka at the junior level. While Suranjoy is a gold-medallist from the 2010 Commonwealth Games and the 2009 Asian Championships, Devendro won a silver in the CWG and made the pre-quarters of the Olympic Games in London, 2012.
Suranjoy had been named an assistant coach in 2017 as well but he could not accept the position due to some personal issues. “The last time I was named, there were family problems, abhi sab theek han, join kar lenge (Everything is okay now, can join),” the Manipuri, who won a sensational eight consecutive international gold medals during a stupendous run from 2009 to 2010 before a knee injury hampered his career, told PTI.
“The world championship is going to be a challenging assignment given that the weight categories have been rejigged but we are up for it, and hopefully we can get some good results,” he added. Devendro, a world championships quarterfinalist and an Asian championships silver-medallist, was excited as well.
“I finally get a chance to put to use what I have learnt for all these years, I hope I can make it count. It is an honour,” said the soft-spoken Manipuri, whose eyesight problems and a debilitating knee injury ensured an early end to his career as a boxer.
Devendro completed his coaching Diploma from Patiala's National Institute of Sports in 2020. Both Suranjoy and Devendro are part of the Services Sports Control Board, which dominated the National Championships last month, winning eight gold medals.
The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) had earlier decided to replace men’s chief coach C A Kuttappa with Army Sports Institute’s Rana ahead of the mega-event in Serbia, which is also set to mark the end of High-Performance Director Santiago Nieva's tenure.
A former Asian Championship bronze-medallist and a four-time national champion, the 49-year-old Rana has been a seasoned coach with the Services Sports Control Board. He has trained the likes of world championship medal winners Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik at various stages of their careers.
Rana has been based at the Army Sports Institute (ASI) in Pune, the place credited with discovering stars such as Suranjoy, Vikas Krishan, Shiva Thapa and Devendro among others. Kuttappa remains a part of the setup though as the federation has named him the coach coordinator.
The development continues the churning in Indian boxing after the Tokyo Olympics performance, which was dubbed underwhelming by the national federation. Already, women's High-Performance Director Raffaele Bergamasco has left after not getting an extension in his contract. Women’s head coach Mohd Ali Qamar could also be replaced.
India had its biggest ever boxing team -- five men and four women -- competing at the Games in July-August, of whom only Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) could finish on the podium with a bronze medal. It was the country's first boxing medal at the Games in nine years, but more was expected given the top form the pugilists had shown leading up to the showpiece.