The Indian women boxing squad will be leaving for Bangkok early next week to participate in the Asian championship without star pugilist M.C. Mary Kom. However, it does not perturb chief coach Mohammed Ali Qamar, who is confident of a good show. “In the 2017 Asian meet, we won one gold, one silver, and four bronze medals. This time we should do equally well, if not better,” Qamar told IANS on Saturday.

The only gold medal in 2017 meet was won by Mary Kom in the 48kg. “Mary’s absence is definitely a blow. We are going without her since she has decided to skip the meet to prepare for the World championship in the new 51-kg category. But there are young boxers, who are capable of shining for India,” Qamar said. “Mind it, the Asian championship (April 16 to 27) is going to be extremely tough…..there will be top boxers involved. If we do well here, our confidence will be high for the World meet,” warned the Indian chief coach.

Qamar was a celebrated light flyweight boxer during his career – his name got etched in Indian sporting history in 2002 when he became the first Indian to win a boxing gold medal in Commonwealth Games. Presently holding the charge of Indian women’s team, Qamar is amazed by the depth of women’s boxing in India.

“I shall not be surprised if India wins a gold medal in 48-kg or 64-kg categories,” Qamar said without naming any particular boxer. While Nitu would be India’s representative in 48-kg, Simranjit Kaur would spearhead India’s challenge in 64-kg. In the World championship in Delhi last November, Simranjit won the bronze medal.

Apart from Simranjit, two other Indian medal winners in the World meet, Sonia Chahal (silver in 57-kg) and Lovlina Borgohain (bronze in 69-kg) are also there in the squad.

“There is huge depth in Indian women boxing now. During our time, only a handful of girls played the sport. Since women’s boxing has been introduced in the Olympics, lots of nations, including Europeans have come up. Cuba did not do much, but now that there are five weight categories in Olympics, they may also try it out,” said Qamar.

“The change in India is big. Previously, there were women boxers, who won titles at the national level many years at a stretch. Now things are completely different from the new generation. Even in national camp, you will find 50-odd women boxers. Beside this, there are many girls, who are capable of representing India..maybe they lack in experience. The competition has become tough,” added Qamar.