Ten men and three women form the 13-strong team which will be in action from March 25. In the men's competition, only the top three boxers in each weight category will make the Olympic cut with the third spot decided via a box-off between the two bronze-medallists.

In the women's draw, only the gold and silver medal winners will qualify for Rio de Janeiro.      In the absence of a recognised federation, the Indians will once again compete under the flag of the International Boxing Association (AIBA).

"It is going to be a very tough tournament because not many from the Asian region qualified during last year's World Championships. I am expecting around 30 countries and more than 250 boxers to be there at this event," national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI ahead of the team's departure.

None of the Indian boxers have so far qualified for the Olympics. During last year's World Championships, Shiva (56kg) won a rare bronze medal for the country but could not seal an Olympic ticket owing to his loss in the quota box-off.

It is not going to be any easier at the continental qualifiers either. "If you start thinking about the difficulties, you only make it tough for yourself. So it's better to focus on what one actually can do. We have trained hard just the way we do before any big event and hopefully, we shall deliver," said Shiva, who recently won a gold medal at the South Asian Games in Guwahati.

The men's team also includes Commonwealth Games silver-medallists L Devendro Singh (49kg) and Mandeep Jangra (69kg), Asian silver-medallist Vikas Krishan (75kg) and former Asian medallist Manoj Kumar (64kg) among others.

In the women's squad, five-time world champion and Olympic bronze-medallist Mary Kom (51kg) is joined by former Asian champion L Sarita Devi (60kg) and Asian Games bronze-medallist Pooja Rani (75kg).

Latest News from Sports News Desk