Sunday, June 16, 2024

‘Important to understand that there’s no one way to get medals’ 

A World boxing championship not only showcases a wide variety of boxers from various nationalities and cultures, but it also presents different styles practised across countries and regions.

The ongoing World women’s championship is also an amalgamation of boxers fighting in different ways with an ultimate goal of prevailing over their opponents.

“You can see tendencies in different countries and different regions but there is always a lot of strategy in play. Uzbekistan has more physical play, Cubans display more dancing and boxing from a long-range,” former high performance director of Indian boxing, Santiago Nieva, who is now coaching the Australian National team, told The Hindu.

Hailing from Sweden with Argentine roots, Nieva has worked in at least four continents to understand that reading one’s opponent is what matters. “You’ve to look at individual opponents – whether they’re closer to your face or are boxing more attackingly or defensively and what range they like to box in. First, you look at this and then the situations and tactics in the bout.

“Historically, Australia is a country with tough boxers – many of them professional champions, including Jeff Fenech. But that doesn’t translate much into this team.

“The important thing is to be open-minded and understand that there is not only one way to get those medals. Cubans have their way, but the Kazakhstanis have their way. So do Thailand and Britain.”

Elements of boxing from one country travel to another through coaches like Nieva or Cuban Raul Angel Fernandez Liranza, who is currently coaching the Chinese.

India too recruited coaches from Cuba, France, Sweden and Italy in the past and now two from Ireland.

Crucial aspect

Getting used to different styles is an important aspect for a boxer.

The French team, which has more experience of boxing with other European countries, participated in a multi-nation training camp here prior to the World championship.

“We don’t normally train with countries like Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and India. During this camp, we trained with different countries,” said French coach Stephane Cottalorda.

In the run-up to the Olympics, the French team will travel abroad to fight with different styles of boxers.

While the exposure to varied styles enriches a boxer, Nieva feels overall improvement – including technical, tactical, strength and conditioning, nutrition and psychology – is also important. “We try to get an edge in as many areas as possible because, in the end, it’s the small factors that contribute (in the growth of) a sportsperson,” said Nieva.

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