Asian women boxing begins

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Guwahati, Sep 23 (UNI) Poster boy of Indian boxing Vijender Singh cheered the women pugilist of Asia as the fourth Asian Women Boxing Championship was inaugurated by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

Overshadowed by male boxing and struggling hard to find a place in London Olympics, the Asian Boxing found Assam the best suited location as the sports starved state cheered heartily for the 83 competitors of 12 nations.

Indian women have made deep inroads in what was essentially a man's bastion. Led by three-time world champion M C Marykom, the Indian women have been among the medal winners in the world as well as Asian championship in the past.

The redoubtable Marykom, who gave birth to twins recently, will be seen in action in an international championship.

Besides her, the local favourite Kalpana Choudury is another who is confident of winning the gold as two of her strong opponents withdrew their name.

The Manipuri boxer will be competing in her favourite 46 kg weight class and hopes to win another gold medal. ''She is indeed a strong contender for the gold medal,'' said coach Anup Kumar.

Indian women had a rich haul from the last championship held at Chinese Taipei. Seven gold medals, two silver and as many bronze medals enabled India to finish among the top teams in the continent.

Three of the seven gold medal winners from the 2007 championship Marykom, L Sarita Devi and K C Lekha have found a place in the team this year as well and naturally the host starts favourite in the weight categories.

Only India and strong contender, China, are expected to field a full complement of 13 boxers at least on the eve of the championship.

China, according to Col Muralidharan Raja, the Indian Boxing Federation secretary, is likely to pull out of the 46 and 48 kg groups.

''Everything will be clear after the weigh-in,'' he assured.

Apart from India and China North Korea and Kazakhstan are also likely to dominate the show. Most of the world champions are from these countries. The four apart, South Korea, Macao, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Vietnam, Chinese Taipei, Indonesia and Mangolia have sent in entries.

UNI MT KK AB KP1656

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