Shillong (Meghalaya) , Nov 25: The intense action of the 7th Elite Men’s National Boxing Championship delivered as promised on the first day of the prestigious event at the SAI Indoor Hall here today.
Forty-one bouts across the 13 categories were held today, shared across two boxing rings. The 25 November to 1 December championship, organised by the Meghalaya Boxing Association (MBA) and BFI and sponsored by the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs, Government of Meghalaya, was declared open by the chief guest, the Secretary General of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI), Hemanta Kumar Kalita.
Also gracing the occasion was the Working President of the Meghalaya State Olympic Association, Shri John F Kharshiing, who was the guest of honour, Director of the Department of Sports and Youth Affairs Smti Isawanda Laloo IAS, MSOA General Secretary Finely L Pariat, Assistant Director of SAI Shillong , PS Chauhan and President of the Assam Boxing Association Kamal Goyary.
Shillong has hosted several important sporting events in recent years, such as the multi-disciplinary North East Olympic Games 2022, National Ranking Archery Tournament 2023 and Senior National Table Tennis Championship 2022.
Speaking at the inauguration ceremony, Smti Laloo said that it is a great honor for Meghalaya to host the championship. “We are very grateful to the BFI and MBA for this partnership in hosting this event. Indeed, it is a unique opportunity for us to not only host it and host the best talent from around the country, but it is also a platform for our boxers to showcase their talent and learn from the best.”
There is a huge boxing talent pool in the state and the numbers have grown through the efforts of the MBA, she added, with many strong performances in zonal and regional events.
Smti Laloo also paid tribute to great Meghalaya boxers-turned-coaches like Torak Kharpran and Roshni Bhusal, who have both coached Indian national pugilists. The organisers took the opportunity of this esteemed event to felicitate them both with mementoes of appreciation.
The Director also informed that the state government and BFI have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the federation to further help build Meghalaya’s base in boxing. She also spoke about the Elite Pathway Programme that is being used in collaboration with the MSOA to identify youths with sporting potential.
“I hope this event helps us groom our talent further. Our youth will certainly be hugely inspired,” Smti Laloo said, adding a message directly to the boxers, “And I look forward to seeing many of you reach the Paris Olympics next year.”
Kharshiing noted in his speech that Meghalaya has hosted national and international boxing events in the past and said he hopes that Meghalaya will produce national champions in boxing and other disciplines.
Kalita conveyed his “heartfelt thanks to CM Conrad K Sangma and his government for hosting this prestigious event.”
There is a total of 398 boxers from 37 states, territories and sports boards.
“This is a very important event for you,” he said directly to the boxers. “Medal winners will go to a national coaching camp and those boxers who are in Olympic weight categories will then travel to Italy for the Olympic qualifiers.”
Three Meghalaya pugilists were involved today, unfortunately all on the losing side.
While Banjop Nongkhlaw (51-54kg bantamweight) lost by knockout to Mohammed Bilal of Telangana in the first round, Balnas Sangma went the distance against his Goan opponent Nikhil Gaonkar, losing the exhausting 67-71kg light middleweight bout on points. That was also the same result for Justerwell Jyrwa in his middleweight 71-75kg fight against Abhishek Shaw of Bengal.
Tomorrow will be another big day, with the action starting from 11am.