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Winning a major tournament always provides a big boost to a player, but there are occasions when a player tends to press the ‘complacency’ button, which paves the way for his dipping performance. Complacency is certainly not a word in boxer Amit Panghal’s dictionary – ever since he stunned 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan to win the 2018 Asian Games gold medal, the ‘performance graph’ of the Haryana boxer has been witnessing an upward trend. It was the case of Amit strongly building on his Asian Games' ‘big effort’ as he made 2019 even more productive starting off bagging the gold medal at the Strandja Memorial Tournament in February in Bulgaria, following up with a top podium finish at the Asian Boxing Championship in Bangkok and capping off his impressive run with another gold medal-winning effort at the Indian Open in Guwahati. Amit Panghal Asian Boxing Championship 2019 The 23-year-old pugilist is aware of the highly competitive nature of modern boxing and is doing everything he can to ensure he is in peak form consistently. The recent European tour has only helped Amit add some more ammunition to his armoury, in terms of enhancing the number of punches one can throw at one go.
The 5ft-3-inches boxer, who hails from Haryana’s Mayna village, is fast acquiring a reputation of doing his homework well. Take the case of world number one boxer Hasanboy Dusmatov, the Uzbek defeated Amit twice in the quarterfinals of the 2017 AIBA World Boxing Championship and the 2017 Asian Boxing Championships, but the Indian was not going to let the Uzbek domination continue. Amit worked on his shortfalls in a bid to cross the ‘Dusmatov’ hurdle. “Dusmatov is a top quality boxer and the fact that he is a southpaw makes my job even tougher. Having lost to him twice in 2017, I had only revenge on my mind. My quarterfinal win over him at the 2019 Asian Boxing Championship showed my Asian Games effort was no flash in the pan,” the youngster recalls with a tinge of confidence. Amit Panghal India Open 2019 Amit spent his early days in boxing at the Rohtak-based Sir Chhoturam Boxing Academy under coach Anil Dhankhar – he also considers his elder brother - Ajay Panghal (a former boxer who now works in the Indian Army) as his coach. It was Ajay who pushed Amit to take up boxing in 2007. “Both Anil sir and my elder brother Ajay have had a big influence on my career. I take pointers from my brother and whenever I am in my hometown, I make it a point to take inputs from Anil sir – speaking regularly to both of them helps me to stay ahead of the curve,” Amit pointed out. With the world body – International Boxing Federation (AIBA) suspended by the IOC – does all these developments play on the preparations of boxers given the World Championships and Olympics are coming up? “The upcoming ABIA World Championship to be held in Russia will not have any Olympic quota places on offer, and if I had bagged that quota, it would have given me more time to prepare for the Olympics. Now IOC will hold Olympic qualifying tourneys, which is also fine with us,” he quips. Being the reigning Asian Games champion in the light flyweight category (49 kg), how does he rate his medal-winning chances at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?
“The exposure trip to Italy and Ireland was extremely beneficial for me. In India, we are more used to throwing two-three punches tactic, while in Europe, boxers are well versed with throwing four-five punches at one go, something I, along with team-mates, focussed on during our sparring sessions. These sessions will help us cope well with European boxers in future,” says Amit exuding a maturity beyond his age.
Americans and Cubans are formidable in this category, and so are some European boxers. I am working hard, staying focussed and looking to put in whatever hard yards is required to do my country proud in Tokyo. But before that, I want to perform well in the 2019 World Championships in Russia,” remarked Amit, who is currently employed with the Indian Army.
“I have shifted to the flyweight category (52-kg) at the 2019 Asian Championships (as 49-kg was removed from the Olympic programme) and shifting to a new weight category is challenging. I do not have the height advantage, and there are many tall, strong boxers in the 52-kg category."