Can boxer Ashish Kumar Chaudhary pull off a Sakshi-like surprise at Tokyo Olympics?
While there are a lot of expectations from the likes of Amit Panghal, Vikas Krishnan, Mary Kom one name which has flown under the radar is that of Ashish Kumar Chaudhary.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is expected to be a big one for Indian boxing. After the major disappointment during the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, wherein none of the three qualified boxers could move past the quarterfinals, India is sending a total of nine boxers to Tokyo.
While the experts and fans in the country have a lot of expectations from the likes of Amit Panghal, Vikas Krishnan, Mary Kom and others to come up with trumps, one name which has flown under the radar is that of Ashish Kumar Chaudhary.
Hailing from the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Ashish's claim to fame was when he clinched the silver medal at the 2019 Asian Championships in the 75kg middleweight division.
His passion for the sport was on full display when he went on to clinch a quota for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics during the Asia and Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in March 2020, just a month after losing his father to health-related issues.
Unlike many other pugilists who start their career pretty early in life, Ashish took up the sport relatively late. While this has meant that the progress graph of his career has been a bit slow, his hard work and determination have helped him develop to one of the best in the country.
Speaking about his ward, the Indian chief national coach for male boxers, CA Kuttappa, said, "Ashish is a hard worker; probably one of the hardest working people I have come across. He started boxing pretty late in life, yet he has reached wherever he is right now, and that is all due to his work ethics. He is someone who is always looking to improve," to The Bridge.
He further went on to state that Ashish as a boxer is unpredictable – on some days, he can beat the best in the world, while on the other days, he can lose to any given day. The coach maintained that this is something they are working on before they head to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics.
"Ashish is like a kid. He always needs someone to monitor him. Even for the slightest of things, he would ask me or others how to go about it. This, in a sense, is a good thing, but sometimes you expect a player like him to do it on his own. I always tell him you have the ability to beat the best boxers in the world, black and blue, on your day, but you can also lose to anyone on any given day. Nowadays, he has improved a lot, but this is something which we are working on," Kuttappa explained in a telephonic conversation.
When questioned on how he analyses the medal chances for Ashish Chaudhary at the Olympics, the coach suggested that it would depend on the given day.
"Going into the Olympics, Ashish does not really have a lot of expectations on him. He is not really in the public and media gaze, but that does not mean he cannot spring a surprise at Tokyo. He has the potential and is unpredictable, it is just about having a couple of good days, and he surely is a dark horse," he said.
The coach seemed to be pretty happy with how both the men's and women's teams have shaped up going into the Olympics and asserted that with the kind of boxers India have, the fans can expect them to bring home at least two or three medals.
"We have improved a lot from 2016. The facilities have improved and so has the competition between players. This has pushed everyone to raise their game. With the kind of boxers we have, even I as a coach am expecting two or three medals in boxing," he signed off.