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Indian boxing stars set for weight change as AIBA rejigs Olympic divisions

Some of Indian boxing’s most accomplished names such as Amit Panghal, Shiva Thapa and Manish Kaushik will be moving to higher weight categories to sustain their Olympic dream as the sport’s world body has scrapped their current divisions from the 2020 Tokyo Games.

The International Boxing Association (AIBA) has finalised the eight men’s and five women’s divisions for the 2020 programme.

The new weight categories finalised for men are 52kg, 57kg, 63kg, 69kg, 75kg, 81kg, 91kg and +91kg, while for women, the divisions would be 51kg, 57kg, 64kg, 69kg and 75kg.

The AIBA has also decided to introduce a bout review system from September this year through which teams would be allowed to challenge decisions of a maximum of two bouts in a tournament.

The change means that Panghal, an Asian Games gold-medallist in 49kg, will now have to move to 52kg, while Thapa and Kaushik will have to forego the 60kg division and move up to the newly-created 63kg. Thapa is a three-time Asian Championships medallist and a world bronze-medallist, while Kaushik won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games last year.

“We were prepared for this, we knew that weight categories would be rejigged and the boxers will be making the transition after the Asian Championships next month. There is no other way, they have to go up if they want a shot at an Olympic medal,” Indian Boxing’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva said.

Speaking about the transition for men, Nieva conceded “it won’t be easy” but insisted that the Indian camp has enough time to adapt and be ready for the new divisions, which will be in place for the World Championships in Russia, also the first Olympic qualifying event.

National men’s coach C A Kuttappa agreed with Nieva’s assessment and said boxers will be counselled before the big change.

The Asian Championships will be held in Bangkok from April 17 to 28, while the world showpiece is from September 7 to 21 in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

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