By Lerpong Amsa-giam
The Thailand Boxing Association (TBA) has set the men's team the tough task of claiming two gold medals the upcoming Asian Games in Inchoen, South Korea.
TBA chief Pichai Chunhavajira has high hopes for reigning President Cup champion Wuttichai Masuk and wants another gold from either Chatchai Butdee, Anawat Thongkratok or Sailom Adi. Pichai has upped expectations from the single boxing gold won by the team Thai in each of the past two Games (2006 and 2010).
“Judging from recent results, we have boxers who are potential Asian Games gold medallists. Wuttichai in particular won the President’s Cup by beating Kazak hope [Almasbek Alibekov] and Cuban world No 1 [Luis Oliva] in the final to win the light welterweight title. It’s not easy to beat a home fighter in a boxing powerhouse like Kazakhstan,” the TBA chief said.
“We also have Sailom [welterweight], Anawat [light heavyweight] and Chatchai [flyweight], who have Olympic experience. These boxers have been in good form and have a good draw. They are capable of producing gold-medal-winning performances,” said Pichai.
Thailand’s squad of seven men and two women are training in Kao Yai, with almost daily sparring sessions against foreign boxers and professional fighters to familiarise them with new Asian Games rules. Asiad judges will now score each round with a maximum of 10 points, while the men will no longer wear headguards. This could benefit the Thais who grew up practising muay thai, where headguards are not used.
“The lack of headguards gives us the edge,” confirmed Pichai. “In the past we have rarely seen knockouts but with the new rules there will likely be kayo’s after a few rounds. The TBA chief also emphasised that his fighters need to show dominant form to catch the judges’ eye.
“If they can make it clear they are better right from start, then it’s very unlikely that the judging will go against them. But at the end of the day, you have to be really good to win.”
‘Regret’ over cheerleaders
South Korea expressed regret yesterday over North Korea’s “unilateral” withdrawal of its proposal to send 350 cheerleaders to accompany its athletes at next month’s Asian Games.
“We feel very regretful over North Korea’s unilateral announcement,” Unification Ministry spokesman Lim Byeong-Cheol told reporters. Lim refuted accusations by Son Kwang-ho, vice head of the North’s Olympic Committee, that Seoul was not happy with the dispatch of North Korean cheerleaders. Son accused Seoul of treating North Korean cheerleaders as a political propaganda tool aimed at creating discord in the South.