GUWAHATI, May 19 - After having hosted some of the high-profile sporting events in the last few years, Guwahati is now all set to host the India Open International Boxing Tournament at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Sarusajai here from tomorrow.
All eyes will be on six-time world champion MC Mary Kom as close to 200 pugilists from 16 powerhouses will participate at the USD 70,000 prize money tournament.
Asian Games champion Amit Panghal and World Championship bronze medallist Shiva Thapa will be among the other top Indian boxers in the tournament which will serve as preparatory meet for the World Championships, an Olympic qualification event to be held at Yekaterinburg from September 7 to 21 and from October 3 to 13 in Ulan-Ude (women�s) both in Russia.
Addressing the media, six-time world champion Mary Kom said, �I feel more confident in 51 kg after the few months of rigorous training. It feels like homecoming to come here in Guwahati and I hope there will be tremendous support for all Indian boxers.�
While Mary Kom will be India�s biggest medal hope yet again, Amit Panghal (52 kg) will be looking to continue his dominance after winning the Asian Championships gold.
Assam�s Shiva Thapa (60 kg), who created a record by winning medals in four consecutive Asian Championships, will be aiming to impress the home crowd and so will Ankushita Boro (64 kg), a gold medallist at the 2017 World Youth Championship. 2017 World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Gaurav Bidhuri (56 kg) will be another big medal hope from India.
�I am hungry to change the colour of the medal. I am very excited to get a chance to play in my hometown,� said Shiva Thapa.
�Each and every member of the Indian team is working hard for the tournament. As a team, our aim is to win more medals in the tournament,� Thapa further added.
Asian Games gold medallist Panghal who has changed his weight category from 49 kg to 52 kg said, � This will be a good platform for us to face top-notch boxers and gauge the competition as we gear up for the World Championships.�
Assam�s Bhagyabati Kachari too has made a similar change in weight category while Asian Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun will be fighting it out in 57 kg for the very first time.
Top international boxers like Asian Games gold medallist Baturov Bobo, Asian Games champion Mirzakhalilov Mirazizbek, two-time World Championships medallist Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan, Youth Olympic champion Brian Agustin Arregui of Argentina, world champion and reigning Asian Championships winner Josie Gabuco of Philippines will be seen in action during the tournament.
�The India Open is a great opportunity for the Indian boxers. In the run-up to their preparations for the World Championships, they will be facing some top boxers including Asian Games and World champions,� said Ajay Singh, president of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).