Packing a punch with young boxers in SEA Games

Malaysia Amateur Boxing Federation (MABF) president Datuk Mohd Iruan Zulkefli discussing the planning for the Vietnam SEA Games with coach Rustam Saidov.

KUALA LUMPUR: More new faces will be fielded in the Malaysian boxing team for the Vietnam SEA Games this year.

This is the commitment made by Malaysia Amateur Boxing Federation (MABF) president Datuk Mohd Iruan Zulkefli, who is looking at the biennial Games as a build-up to the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games.

Iruan took over the top post in the midst of Covid-19 pandemic situation late last year and has since brought in 2000 Sydney Olympics bronze medallist Rustam Saidov as the head coach.

There is also a plan to bring the SEA Games-bound boxers for a training camp at Saidov’s home country in Uzbekistan.

“We have four boxers above the age of 23 and there will be six categories at the SEA Games. Our plan is to expose our youngsters as preparation for the Commonwealth Games, ” said Iruan.

“For now we can’t hold any competitions yet to test the boxers but there’s a massive difference in training since Saidov took over. The athletes are improving and adding new dimensions into their boxing skills. This is good.

“We hope to take them to train in Uzbekistan once the Covid-19 situation improves and learn from world-class boxers there.”

Malaysian boxers delivered one gold, one silver and one bronze at the home SEA Games in 2017 but at the last edition in Philippines two years later, the team could only deliver three bronze medals.

“The gap between the nations in the South-East Asia region is not too far and if the national boxers give their full commitment, it’s possible to stun heavyweights Philippines and Thailand.”

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