Mohammed Ali Qamar, the man who won India’s first Commonwealth Games gold medal in boxing, has taken over as chief coach for the country’s women pugilists, becoming the youngest ever to get the top job.
Ali Qamar, who turns 38 in a couple of months’ time, was appointed to the position on Monday night, replacing veteran Shiv Singh. Ali Qamar has been an assistant coach in the national camp for more than a year.
In addition, the Arjuna awardee has helmed the Railways Sports Promotion Board’s women’s team for more than three years.
“It has come as a bit of surprise to me, I got to know only last night and I am thankful to the Boxing Federation of India for considering me worthy enough for the position,” Ali Qamar, whose history-making CWG gold came in the 2002 Manchester edition in the light flyweight category, told agencies in an interview.
The diminutive Kolkata native will be working alongside Italian coach Raffaele Bergamasco and will have seven assistant coaches in his team, including superstar M C Mary Kom’s trainer Chhote Lal Yadav.
The man he succeeds is well past 60 and there were murmurs of a possible change in the women’s camp after the BFI named a 39-year-old C A Kuttappa as the chief coach for the men’s camp. India’s previous chief coaches for women — Anoop Kumar and Gurbax Singh Sandhu — were well over 50 when they took over.
Asked what might have tilted the scales in his favour, Ali Qamar said, “May be the practical knowledge I have gained as an assistant coach. I think the focus is also on getting younger coaches in the camp.”
“I might have done something right, could be the feedback from the girls in the camp. Don’t know, all I can say is that I will give it my all,” said the diminutive former boxer, whose career was cut short by a recurring nose injury.
Did he actually expect the position within a year of joining the national camp as an assistant coach?
“No, not so early, not at 37. I had ambitions of going ahead based on performance but not so quickly. Now that I have been given the responsibility, I think I am ready for the challenge,” he said.