The Boxing Federation of India is in talks with the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to restart sparring -- contact training -- in a limited manner at the National Institute of Sport (NIS) in Patiala, where most of India's top male and female boxers are currently training in a non-contact manner.
SAI's Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) prohibits contact training of any kind and the boxers have thus far been working out on an individual basis. "The boxers staying there are not mingling with anybody else, so it's quite safe," BFI secretary general Jay Kowli told IANS on Friday.
When asked if the BFI is in discussion with SAI about starting sparring in the camp, Kowli said: "We are working on it; we are discussing things with them. SAI knows what we are planning, they are providing logistical support. We feel it is safe, there is no problem, and it is high time we restarted sparring."
Kowli, however, did not specify how much the dialogue with the SAI has progressed to, but he said a decision could be arrived at as early as this month.
Rajesh Bhandari, Director Coaching, said that a separate SOP will be needed for sparring to restart. "It is time to restart sparring but it should be in a controlled manner," Bhandari, who is also the director of the ongoing camp, told IANS. "It should be done with all the precautions. We will need to make a separate SOP for this and these are the topics that we are discussing with SAI."
The pugilists have been training at NIS Patiala since late June, after a lengthy layoff enforced by the Covid-19 pandemic. While much of it has thus far been about getting the athletes back into shape, men's chief coach CA Kuttappa said it would be great if contact training of some manner is allowed to be resumed. "At this moment that we are doing the basic fitness exercises. We are not doing any sparring as was mentioned in the SOPs. We will see how things go in the coming days," he told IANS.
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