After more than two decades of serving as India’s chief men’s boxing coach, veteran Gurbax Singh Sandhu will now train the country’s women boxers assisted by a 14-strong team comprising the likes of Arjuna awardees Mohammed Ali Qamar and N Usha among others.
In a massive overhaul undertaken by the recently-formed Boxing Federation of India (BFI), the Indian women’s boxing coaching set-up has been completely changed after over a decade of status quo. Sandhu and co take charge of the national camp from December 10.
“We have decided to make these changes because there was a need to break the status quo. I don’t want to comment on the performance of the previous coaches but I believe there was a need to make these changes,” BFI President Ajay Singh told PTI.
Sandhu, who has been the longest-serving men’s national coach, has been handed the charge of women boxers, ending Anoop Kumar’s long tenure. Sandhu was the chief coach when India won its maiden Olympic medal in boxing through Vijender Singh in 2008.
“It’s a completely new arena for me, I am looking forward to it. I have been entrusted with the job of training girls, which will be a new challenge for me. I am grateful to the BFI for having the confidence in me and I hope I can deliver some good results,” Sandhu told PTI.
Working alongside him will be former national champion Poonam Beniwal, who has been appointed the high performance manager-cum-coach.
Beniwal, the wife of former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist and two-time Olympian Akhil Kumar, is currently working as a performance analyser with both the men’s and women’s team and travelled with the group which went to Rio Olympics.
Comprising the assistant staff is an accomplished set of active coaches and former boxers. Leading the pack is Ali Qamar, the country’s first Commonwealth Games gold-medallist. Ali Qamar is currently with the Railways team, which finished second at the recent women’s Nationals.
“Equal number of male and female coaches have been picked. Plus we have tried to mix youth and experience to get the right combination,” the BFI chief said.
“As for the men boxers, we have zeroed in on names for that too and soon a new staff will be in place for them too,” he added.
Also there is long-serving assistant men’s coach Jaidev Bisht, who is a Dronacharya awardee and widely respected among the big names of Indian boxing.
Joining them would be another Dronacharya awardee duo of Haryana’s Jagdish Singh and Sagar Mal Dhayal. Former Asian quarterfinalist Chhote Lal Yadav, who was part of M C Mary Kom’s training staff has also been included.
Eight male coaches will be joined by an equal number of women coaches.
The list includes two-time World Championships silver-medallist N Usha, who was training the Railways boxers during the recent women’s National Championship in Haridwar.
Former World Championships bronze-medallist Renu Gora, who was of the training staff of reigning women’s nationals champions Haryana, has also been roped in.
The new coaching staff for women boxers: Chief Coach: Gurbax Singh Sandhu High Performance Manager-cum-coach: Poonam Beniwal Assistant Coaches (men): Mohd Ali Qamar, Jaidev Bisht, Bhaskar Bhatt, Sagar Mal Dhayal, Jagdish Singh, Chhote Lal Yadav, Inkom. Assistant Coaches (women): N Usha, Renu Gora, Sandhya Gurung, Dipa Chanu, Mandakini Chanu, Bharti, Akok.