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Worse than Rio - Indian men boxers' flop show at Tokyo Olympics

The Indian men won only one out of their six bouts at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Indian Men Boxing Team at Tokyo Olympics
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The Indian men's boxers at the Tokyo Olympics.

By

Abhijit Nair

Updated: 2021-08-01T15:56:30+05:30

6 bouts, 1 win

Yes, that's what the statistics of Indian male pugilists look like at the end of their campaign at the Tokyo Olympics.

The only win out of the six came via the country's first Super Heavyweight boxer to qualify for the Olympics – Satish Kumar, when he defeated Ricardo Brown of Jamaica in the pre-quarterfinals by a split decision.

And this was an Olympics the Indian men were expected to shine in after the debacle five years back in Rio de Janeiro. They were more in numbers and were surely better prepared.

The facilities have improved since then, as admitted by India's chief coach for men, CA Kuttappa, in a conversation with The Bridge.

But, one thing which has quite certainly failed to improve is the performance of the Indian men boxers.

Only three Indians had qualified for the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, and they returned back with three wins – two by Vikas Krishan and one by Manoj Kumar.

That campaign was still termed as a disaster as India failed to win a medal in boxing for the first time since the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Then what should their stint at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics be called?

While the likes of Ashish Kumar Chaudhary and Manish Kaushik being sent packing home in the very first round was not really surprising, the exit of the experienced Vikas Krishan and World Number 1 Amit Panghal in their very first bout was surely shocking.

Both Vikas and Amit entered the Tokyo Olympics as India's two of India's better hopes in boxing and the way they were blown away by their opponents quite certainly needs to be questioned and scrutinised.

While Vikas looked of no match to the Japanese Okazawa Quincy and lost by a unanimous 5-0 decision, Amit Panghal lost on a 4-1 split.

The World Number 1 took the first round comfortably and was then taken aback by the Columbian Yuberjen Martinez's relentless attack. There seemed to a point in the bout wherein Amit Panghal seemed to be scared of Martinez and was just running around in the ring. It was certainly not how one would expect a World Number 1 to fight.

The only saving grace for the Indian men amidst all this was the 32-year-old Satish Kumar. He won his first bout by a split decision against the Jamaican Ricardo Brown – which was the only win registered by Indian men during their entire campaign.

The quarterfinal bout against the World Champion Bhakodir Jalolov was not going to be easy for Satish, and just could not reach the level of Uzbek throughout the fight.

But, what stood out is his hunger to fight. He was injured in his bout against Ricardo Brown but still came out and fought against Jalolov. While the result of this bout was predicted by many much before, Satish did save the face of the Indian men's boxing contingent who would have otherwise returned without a single win.

With all the men being knocked out, India's only surviving boxer at the Tokyo Olympics is Lovlina Borgohain, who has already assured the country of a medal by qualifying for the semifinal of the Women's Welterweight division.


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