Nishant Dev had put up a valiant show in his international debut at the 2021 World Championship, one that had earned him plaudits from everyone, but he was disheartened to miss a medal by a whisker.
On top of that, he suffered a broken nose and was also battling acute shoulder pain.
The youngster was, however, determined to prove himself and win a World Championship medal. He achieved the feat by winning the light middleweight (71kg) bronze in Tashkent on Friday.
The medal is a testament to Nishant's never-say-die attitude as the 22-year-old has endured a challenging couple of years to reach here.
"He never showed us that he was sad after losing the World Championship medal last time. He was always positive," Nishant’s father Pawan told PTI. "He broke his nose at the World Championships and he also had shoulder pain.
When he joined the camp in Patiala the pain increased." On getting his shoulder checked, Nishant found out that the pain was due to an old injury. When he was nine years old, Nishant had fallen down the stairs.
A rod was inserted into his shoulder at the time. More than 10 years later, the rod had been infected.
"He was in a lot of pain, so he got the surgery done and Nishant had to take rest for over nine months." Even during his rehabilitation period, the young pugilist never let his parents know of the doubts and insecurities that crossed his mind. He quietly worked on his strength, power, and conditioning.
After just a couple of months of training, he defended his National Championship title earlier this year. "This period between the two world championships has been very tough on him. But he never accepted defeat, he always looked at the bright side. He would always say to us ‘I have to recover fast so I can win again’,” said Pawan
. Born in Karnal to a Zamindar father and a homemaker mother, Nishant enjoyed participating in various sports events as a child.
“He used to participate in all the games in school, 100m, 200m, and skating. Once he was taking part in a skating competition and one of the wheels of his skate came off just before the race. But he didn’t care about it and went on to win the race. “He was never low on confidence, always had clarity of thought. He does whatever it takes to complete his goal,” recalled Pawan.
Nishant was exposed to boxing at an early age as his maternal uncle was a professional boxer in Germany.
But it was after watching Manoj Kumar win the gold at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi that he decided to seriously pursue boxing. “His mama (uncle) did professional boxing in Germany. I wanted him to play lawn tennis but in 2010 CWG when Manoj Kumar’s gold medal came he said to us ‘I want to do boxing’.”
Nishant started training at the Karan stadium under coach Surender Chauhan.
“For the training, he was the one who used to wake me up. We would line up at the stadium at 5 am. He would come back by 7:30 am, have a bath and run to school. And then again after lunch, we would rush for practice.”
At the ongoing Worlds, he has put up an impressive performance. Nishant has been relentless in his attack which helped him upstage 2021 World Championships bronze medallist Sarkhan Aliyev of Azerbaijan in the opening round.