Indian Boxers Aim To Punch Their Way To Glory In Tokyo

By Anuj Mishra

With six days to go for the Tokyo Olympics to get underway, athletes across the globe are looking to give finishing touch to their preparations and head for the showpiece event. The Indian contingent is no different as 126 athletes will look to give it their all and bring glory to the country. And the boxers in the contingent are undoubtedly in contention for medals at the Games.

Star boxer Amit Panghal might be entering the Games as the World No.1 boxer in his men’s flyweight (52kg) but six-time world champion pugilist Mary Kom will be leading India’s charge in the upcoming showpiece event.

India last won a medal in boxing in the 2012 London Olympics when Mary Kom clinched a bronze four years after Vijender Singh finished third in the 2008 showpiece event.

Since then, India has not won a medal in the Olympics in the discipline. However, the Asian side did come close to clinching a medal in the 2016 Games before boxer Vikas Krishan Yadav faced defeat in the quarter-finals.

The Indian boxing contingent will depart for Tokyo Olympics from Assisi, Italy on Saturday. The boxers have been training hard for the showpiece event in Italy.

The men’s boxing side comprises number one and Asian Games champion Panghal (52kg), Manish Kaushik (63kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg), Ashish Kumar (75kg), and Satish Kumar (+91kg). The women’s squad includes Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg), and Pooja Rani (75kg).

Mary Kom — India’s biggest medal hope in boxing — is the lone woman boxer in the country to win a gold medal at the Asian Games. Mother of three children, Mary Kom is a legendary figure and central to Indian boxing.

In May 2021, Mary Kom finished her ASBC Asian Boxing Championships campaign with a silver medal after going down fighting against the two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay.

It was the second silver for Mary Kom at the Asian Championships who has previously won titles on five occasions — 2003, 2005, 2010, 2012, and 2017 besides silver in 2008.

The decorated Indian boxer is the first amateur Indian athlete to win the Padma Bhushan. She has won 5 gold and two silver medals in Asian Championships and is an eight-time World medallist which includes six gold medals.

In the men’s category, Panghal is India’s biggest medal hope. He might have gone down fighting against the reigning Olympics champion Zoirov Shakhobidin in a hard-fought men’s 52kg final at the 2021 ASBC Asian Boxing Championships, but the Indian boxer is raring to go in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.

“I have noted down few things where I need to improve and it will keep me in good stead going forward. There is scope for improvement, I have been training with my coach, where I lagged behind earlier, that has improved significantly now,” Panghal had told ANI in June 2021.

Meanwhile, boxer Pooja Rani (75kg) has also come to the fore after successfully defending her title at the 2021 Asian Boxing Championships. Pooja had outpunched in-form Mavluda Movlonova to hand India its first gold at the Asian Boxing Championships.

Born in Bhiwani district, Haryana, the 30-year-old, who stamped her authority in the international boxing circuit with a silver Medal at the Asian Championships in 2012, has two Asian Championships gold and one Asian Championships bronze medal under her belt. Pooja also clinched a bronze medal at the Asian Games in 2014.

With all the star boxers looking to peak at the right time, the Indian contingent might record a number of podium finishes in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics. But to begin with, they need to focus on the basics and not let the pressure of expectations get to them. (ANI)

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