Boxing boss confident of securing Paris tickets

Boxing boss confident of securing Paris tickets

Thailand Boxing Association (TBA) president Pichai Chunhavajira is confident that his fighters will earn two tickets to the 2024 Olympics from the Asian Games.

The draw for the Hangzhou boxing tournament was made on Friday with three Thai athletes receiving a first-round bye.

"Lady Luck is on our side with three boxers getting a bye in the first round," Pichai said.

"If our boxers can fight like they do in training and do not get injured, we should meet our target of getting two berths for the 2024 Olympics in Paris."

The trio are Peerapat Yeasungnoen (men's 71kg), Veeraphol Jongjohor (men's 80kg) and Juthamas Raksat (women's 50kg).

Boxing has been one of Thailand's most successful sports at the Olympics and Asian Games.

Royal support: Her Royal Highness Princess Sirivannavari Nariratana Rajakanya, in white jacket, poses with the Thai boxing team in Hangzhou yesterday. The Princess is an equestrian who will compete for Thailand at the 2022 Asian Games.

Boxing at Hangzhou 2022 starts on Sunday with qualification for the Paris Olympics also up for grabs.

Organisers will be desperate to avoid the chaos of five years ago in Jakarta when the Asian Games boxing competition was marred by judging protests and controversy.

Two North Korean boxing coaches were thrown out of the Asiad after refusing to leave the ring when their boxer lost a split decision.

And there were ugly scenes when an Iraqi fighter lost another close bout and a fan tried to storm the ring in protest, egged on by the boxer's cornermen.

After that, and a catalogue of controversies at the 2016 Rio Olympics, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2019 suspended the International Boxing Association (Aiba) from running the sport.

Earlier this year Aiba was kicked out of the Olympic movement, with the new IOC-backed World Boxing taking responsibility for administering Olympic amateur boxing after a successful Tokyo Games in 2021.

Flyweight world champion Hasanboy Dusmatov will be one of the favourites for gold.

The 30-year-old Uzbek was Olympic champion in 2016 and in Hangzhou will be seeking the one gold medal absent from his collection in the 51kg division.

His first bout is scheduled for Monday, with gold and silver medallists in the seven men's weight divisions all guaranteed a place at the Paris Olympics.

In the women's competition, 20 Paris berths can be won in Hangzhou.

Dusmatov was stunned in the 2018 Asian Games final by Amit Panghal in a massive upset, but the Indian is a notable absentee this time.

Another hoping to turn 2018 silver into gold is middleweight (71kg) world champion Aslanbek Shymbergenov from Kazakhstan.

Shiva Thapa, a winner at the 2013 Asian Championships, will lead the Indian squad in Panghal's absence.

In the women's competition, light-flyweight (50kg) Thi Tam Nguyen has recovered from a torn knee ligament suffered at the SEA Games earlier this year and will lead a nine-strong Vietnam team.

The world championships silver medallist has already secured her place at Paris and will become the first Vietnamese boxer to take part in two consecutive Olympics.

She could again come up against India's multiple world champion Zareen Nikhat, who beat the Vietnamese by unanimous decision to lift the world title in New Delhi earlier this year.

Nikhat also won gold in the 2022 world championships in Istanbul in the 52kg category.

Meanwhile, IOC president Thomas Bach forecast a "shift in the world towards Asia in sports."

Bach said the biggest-ever Asiad, which officially opened on Saturday, would "set new standards in many different respects".

"We have here a great number of new sports, we see an organisation which is making use of all the digital expertise which China and Hangzhou has to offer," he said. bangkok post/afp

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