“I have been unlucky but who isn’t in this world at some point?”
This was what boxer L Devendro Singh had said in an interview with the PTI back in 2017, trying to make sense of the near misses and rejections through his career.
You might not have heard of him. After all, Devendro has nearly always lost crucial bouts on split verdicts. But did you know, at one point, he was ranked 3rd in the world and was considered as one of the best boxers in the world?
A career filled with near misses
Devendro, who took up the sport after watching his elder sister compete in it, has enjoyed a stellar career filled with some spectacular performances. But somehow, in all the big fights, he has ended up on the losing side.
The Manipuri narrowly missed out on a World Championship medal in 2011 and an Olympics medal in 2012. At the London Olympics, he lost out narrowly to European champion Paddy Barnes, who would go on to claim his second Olympic bronze.
At the 2014 Commonwealth Games, Devendro fought his way into the final and was this close to a gold medal. However, in the all-important fight, he was bested by Barnes yet again.
He was quoted by Sportstar in an interview last year:
He has been in many bouts that could have or perhaps should have gone his way but didn’t. However, the biggest of his heartbreaks came during the Rio Olympic Games qualification.
In the semifinals of the International Boxing Association’s (AIBA) World Qualifying Tournament, Devendro lost 1-2 to Spaniard Carmona Heredia Samuel in a gritty encounter. He fought his heart out but with only two spots up for grabs, the gutsy boxer failed to clinch an Olympic berth.
Devendro was snubbed by the selection committee for the Arjuna Award despite getting nominated for his fine performances two times in a row before finally being recognised in 2017.
Later on, he would go on to lose the trials for the Asian Championships in 2017, thus scuttling his hopes of competing in the subsequent World Championships.
Moving on, the big moments of Devendro’s career
Despite all the setbacks that he has suffered, the diminutive tempo-boxer has always had a positive outlook, which has been reflected in his actions and performances as well.
Devendro won silver in the ASBC Asian Confederation Boxing Championship in 2013 and also bagged a bronze medal to his tally at the FXTM International Limassol Boxing Cup.
In February 2014, the boxer won a gold at the Bocskai Invitation Tournament in Hungary and followed it up with a silver medal at the Glasgow Commonwealth Games.
He even bagged a silver at the Ulaanbaatar Cup boxing tournament in June 2017 in Mongolia, just a couple of months after the disappointment of missing out on what could have been his third successive Asian Championship medal.
A new direction — Helping youngsters achieve what he could not
Still only 27, Devendro has now turned to coaching youngsters. Stationed at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, was seen helping the young Servives boxers prepare for tournaments and bouts last year. He plans to do the coaches’ course from NIS Patiala and help youngsters achieve what he could not.
He last competed in the India Open international boxing tournament in Delhi in 2018. Now, hopefully, Devendro can invest all his experience in producing Olympics and World championship medallists in India.