Indian boxing team’s High Performance Director Santiago Nieva has resigned from his post after a stint of five years.
He has accepted an offer from Australia to become the head coach of the Australian team.
Nieva had appeared for an online interview only five days ago. The Australian body had asked him to join immediately, but he insisted that he needed to serve his notice period in India.
Nieva took over the Indian men’s team in 2017. During his stint, India achieved its highest-ever participation at the Olympics, in Tokyo last year, and won two medals at the 2019 men’s World Championships.
His resignation could impact Indian boxers’ performance at the Commonwealth Games.
“Goodbye is always difficult but that’s how life works. I have had an amazing five years working along with the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and the talented boxers of the nation. I thank BFI for all their support during my time with the Indian team. I believe Indian boxing has great potential and it will continue to grow,” Nieva said in a statement.
During his five-year stint, Nieva had also come under fire from some players. Boxers have often pointed fingers at him for favouring a few individuals in the squad and criticised his training methodology.
A number of boxers, including those who returned from Tokyo empty-handed, had complained to the BFI privately against Nieva. Despite the complaints, the BFI retained his services and also increased his salary.
Olympian Vikas Krishan today came out openly against Nieva and said he was the reason why the men’s team returned without a medal from Tokyo.
“A month before the Olympics we were being served pizza twice a week! This is just one example. We are Indians, we don’t like to eat pizza, who decided on our diets? Of course it was Santiago,” Krishan told The Tribune.
“He had this obsession with training in Italy. Italian boxers did not qualify for the Olympics and five of us were training there. The Olympics were in Asia and here we are training in Europe. We should have been training in Kazakhstan or some other strong Asian countries,” Krishan, who won a bronze at the 2011 World Championships, added.
The 30-year-old also said he had met BFI president Ajay Singh after the Olympics and shared his concerns with him.
“Generally if one wins a medal out of a team of 10, the officials just parade the winner to take credit and that is fine. But no one takes responsibility for the other nine who lost. It happened after the Olympics,” the boxer said.