A month after mother's death, boxer Akash Kumar wins World Championships medal on debut
Akash Kumar became India's first boxer to assure himself of a medal at the ongoing AIBA World Men's Boxing Championships in Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia.
A month ago, Akash Kumar's mother died. The 21-year-old steadied his nerves and steeled himself to deal with the grief. Today, he did the same — only to become India's first boxer to assure himself of a medal at the ongoing AIBA World Men's Boxing Championships in Belgrade, the capital city of Serbia.
He is also just the fourth Indian boxer to win a World Championship medal on debut. Hailing from Paluwas village in Bhiwani district of Haryana, Akash oozed confidence on Tuesday while advancing to the semifinals with a superb 5-0 win over former Olympic silver-medallist Yoel Finol Rivas of Venezuela.
Kumar rose to the occasion with his fearless counter-attacks and showed immaculate footwork against the Rio Olympics star. The fighter that Kumar is, he has toughened himself navigating rough waters from his childhood days.
His father Rajbir, who was a state-level wrestler, had enrolled his two sons into wrestling. But when Vijender Singh became India's first boxer to win an Olympic medal in 2008, he decided to change their vocation to boxing. Unfortunately, Rajbir could not see his sons turn into great boxers as he passed away next year.
Akash's brother Suraj, who showed promise in the sub-junior level, had to give up on his career after he was taken into jail custody with links of murder. Akash's battle in the boxing ring became lonelier after this, but he continued to fight to bring glory to his family, village and country with the sole support of his mother.
Akash was projected by his coaches as the next big name in Indian boxing after he won the Under-21 gold medal at Khelo India Games last January. His progress continued in the senior level when he won the national title last month, which made him eligible for the World Championships.
However, he met with heartbreaking news after returning home with the gold medal. He came to know that his mother, Santosh, had passed away of a lung infection after contracting a viral fever just the day before the nationals began, which was kept a secret from the boxer. While the Services boxer was taking down his opponents in the 54-kg category at the national championships, his coach Narender Rana was trying his best to hide the news from Akash.
Akash became only the seventh Indian male boxer to secure a world championship medal and is also assured of prize money of at least USD 25,000 today. However, he would be eyeing passage to the final now to ensure at least the silver medal, as he gears up to face 19-year-old Makhmud Sabyrkhan of Kazakhstan, a three-time Asian gold-medallist at the youth level, in the semifinals.