Nikhat can win Olympics medal: Ex India boxing coach

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | April 09, 2024 IST

Nikhat Zareen

New Delhi, April 9: Long-serving boxing coach Blas Iglesias Fernandez has backed Nikhat Zareen to return with a medal from the upcoming Paris Olympics. The 68-year-old Cuban, who changed the face of Indian boxing since arriving in India for the first time in 1990, feels Lovlina Borgohain can win too but “only if she shows killer instinct.”

Fernandez, the only overseas coach to have ever won a Dronacharya award, is back in India after being appointed by the Sports Authority of India as High Performance Coach for a two-year period. Fernandez is stationed at the National Boxing Academy in Rohtak, Haryana.

Speaking recently on the sidelines of the multination camp for junior boxers at the SAI’s National Centre of Excellence in Rohtak, Fernandez evaluated India’s chances at the upcoming Summer Games.

The much revered coach, who at various times during his stint with India, has been at the corner of legendary boxers like Dingko Singh, Vijender Singh, Sarita Devi and Mary Kom, said India can win “at least two medals” in Paris and Nikhat Zareen (50 kg) had a high probability to bag one of them.

“I love the boxing (style) of Nikhat. She is very intelligent. She has good ring tactics. She knows when she is winning and when she is losing,” said Fernandez to SAI Media, indicating that the two-time world championships gold medallist, was a boxer who was always in control of her bouts.

“This is Nikhat’s time to prove herself. It’s true that she had lived in the shadows of Mary Kom but now it’s her chance to prove herself and make India proud,” said Fernandez.

After Tokyo, 26-year-old Lovlina has struggled with her form. Moving from 69 kg to 75 kg division was never an easy task. Lovlina did not finish among the medals at the 2022 world championships and the Commonwealth Games. But the tall Assam girl bagged her Paris ticket after winning the world championship gold in 2023 and the silver medal at the 2023 Hangzhou Asian Games.

“Lovlina has to show more killer instinct. I have seen some of her bouts and I think she lost them because Lovlina was not aggressive and proactive enough. If she can box to her potential, she can finish among the medals in Paris,” said Fernandez.

Nikhat (50 kg) and Lovlina (75 kg) are among the four Indian women boxers who have qualified for the July-August Summer Games in Paris. The others are Preeti Pawar (54 kg) and Parveen Hooda (57 kg). Lovlina won a bronze medal at Tokyo Olympics.

Fernandez is hoping India’s men will also qualify for the Paris Games. Much will depend on how they fare in the second and final world qualifiers in Bangkok from May 23 to June 3. Up to 51 Paris quotas will be up for grabs and Indian boxers can potentially clinch nine more Paris spots.

“I reckon Nishant Dev and Amit Panghal can bag Paris quotas. They both have the potential to do this. Men’s boxing is very tough and should not be compared with women’s where the competition is relatively easier. I will like to see Indian men breaking the Olympic jinx,” said Fernandez. (IANS)

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