By Lerpong Amsangiam
Thailand Boxing Association (TBA) secretary general Somai Kwokachaporn is hopeful that the country's boxers will strike gold at the Olympics for the fifth consecutive time.
Thailand ringmasters Somluck Khamsing, Wijarn Polrit, Manas Boonjamnong and Somjit Jongjorhor have between them won gold medals in every Olympics dating back to Atlanta in 1996.
“We should win at least one gold medal. It would be a great achievement to win a fifth in a row,” said Somai, who named Kaeo Pongprayoon, Chatchai Butdee and Sailom Adi to represent the country this summer in London.
Somai picked Kaeo and Chatchai as the favourites to make a mark at this Olympics. Kaeo will be representing his country for the first time in the lightflyweight category and Chatchai in the flyweight. Sailom will fight in the lightweight division.
“Kaew is our big hope but it will depend on the draw. Hopefully he will not be in the same draw as China’s Zou Shiming whom he is yet to beat,” said the Abat executive. Zou Shiming is the reigning champion in the category and also won world titles in 2005, 2007 and 2011.
“Chatchai is another strong contender after he won the PreOlympics tournament in London this year. I’m quite confident a gold medal will come from either Kaeo or Chatchai,” added the secretarygeneral.
The three boxers are in training in Saraburi. Somai’s only concern is that the trio have had virtually no exposure to international competition for several months due to feuding between the Thai boxing body and the AIBA world body.
Somai has advised the coaching team to focus on a boxing style that will help gain points from the judges. Helping them tuneup for the challenge are Azerbaijan boxers who have been invited for sparring sessions at the Saraburi camp.
The TBA, with Gen Boonlert Kaewprasit as its president, is also looking forward to healing its relationship with the world body when Thailand hosts the AIBA meeting next month. Ties between the two have soured since Gen Thaweep Jantaroj, former president of the now defunct Amateur Boxing Association of Thailand, made allegations against AIBA that results were fixed during the 2008 Olympics.