New Delhi: Any dialogue on India’s boxing squad to the Tokyo Olympics is unlikely to characteristic Ashish Kumar. That the primary boxer from Himachal Pradesh to qualify for the Video games is in middleweight (75kg)—the division produced India’s solely male medallist, 2008 bronze winner Vijender Singh—might not make a distinction.
Kumar neither carries huge expectations like debutant and world No.1 Amit Panghal, nor does he have the expertise and standing of Vikas Krishan, heading to his third Video games.
Nonetheless, if the Olympics usually are not about chasing one’s dream, what’s?
“I’ve set a Tokyo Olympics medal as my cell wallpaper. I fall asleep taking a look at it, get up and see it first. Why ought to I maintain any boxer’s picture and get impressed? I’m myself able to bringing house a medal,” Kumar says.
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He’s at present in Italy with the opposite Olympics-bound boxers for a three-week coaching camp. They are going to get to spar with native boxers or these from different nations who’ve additionally headed for Tokyo. It’s a last rehearsal for the Indian males who’ve returned empty-handed from the final two (2012 and 2016) Olympics.
Kumar likes to chart his personal path, although Vijender is a yardstick.
“Vijender bhai was an entire boxer,” stated the JSW-supported boxer. “He relied quite a bit on counter-punching and will play from lengthy vary. I wished to be like Vijender. I even went to Bhiwani to find out about him. However I’ve by no means met him. I’m not so good like him. I’m, you possibly can say, a mixture of many kinds—this, that, all the pieces.
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“I’ve relied totally on assault. Typically going all out has landed me in bother. On the World Collection of Boxing two years again, I bought badly overwhelmed after I went all out. These are the issues I’m finding out. Additionally, boxing has modified from the time Vijender bhai received the medal. It’s important to land extra punches now to impress the judges. Earlier it was extra about getting factors. There could be occasions when a boxer would land a great punch after which maintain evading/working away for the remainder of the spherical. Now, such ways will earn detrimental factors.”
Kumar, 26, overtly acknowledges his weak areas all through the dialog. There are causes. Not like his fellow nationwide campers who rode constant success, Kumar’s profession is about surmounting a string of failures.
For one, he doesn’t come from India’s boxing strongholds like Haryana or Manipur. He took up the game solely as a result of his cousins and late father Bhagat Ram inspired him. And he was one event away from giving it up after near a decade of futile campaigns in home tournaments.
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“From 2007 to 2015 my efficiency was zero. I gave my all and but all the time returned empty-handed. I misplaced within the 2015 nationals and determined to give up the game. I felt I wasn’t ok. I started looking for a job. A month later, the 2015 Nationwide Video games in Kerala was speculated to my final event. I went there for enjoyable.
“There I beat the nationwide champion and went on to win gold. That was the turnaround, however the highway was by no means clean. Then began a string of losses in worldwide occasions until the 2019 Asian championships the place I received silver, adopted by a medal on the Thailand Open,” stated Kumar, who skilled on the Encourage Institute of Sport in Vijayanagar, Karnataka.
NO GLASS CHIN
“I’m not bothered about failures any extra. It doesn’t harm. I understand how to select myself up after a loss. I’ve had so many,” Kumar says.
No marvel he was up and working shortly after a bout of Covid. He examined constructive earlier than his last match on the Boxam Worldwide in Castellon, Spain in March.
“My restoration didn’t take lengthy. I’m now totally match and prepared. Earlier than going to Italy, we had been having intense coaching classes at NIS, Patiala. We’re primarily specializing in mixture punching and pace. At NIS, it was principally a blended schedule—energy coaching, working, and so forth., within the morning and circuit coaching (ring work to enhance energy, health and mobility), sparring and rehab.
They then research the ways of their opponents.
“We’re proven their video clips. We’re proven the place they’re proper and we’re improper. There are high boxers like Gleb Bakshi (Russia’s 2019 world champion), Eumir Marshal (The Philippines), Tursynbay Kulakhmet (Kazakhstan) in my weight class. I’ve fought all of them. I hope I can beat them on the Olympics.”
That may be some feat by Kumar.
“After the 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Match in Amman, there was lockdown. I’m from Sundar Nagar, Mandi. Amenities there usually are not nice. It was solely when a neighborhood sports activities retailer gifted me a kitbag, that I may resume correct apply. So, you possibly can perceive. Coming from there, I’m carrying loads of hope. I goal to be the primary boxer from my state to win an Olympics medal.”