The last couple of years has seen a meteoric rise in Indian boxing and the man at the fore of it is Amit Panghal. The pocket dynamo from Haryana first broke onto the national scene with a gold medal in his debut appearance at the National Boxing Championships in 2017. He hasn’t looked back ever since as he continues to rise through the ranks in style.
Panghal followed up his national championship heroics with a bronze medal at the Asian Championships and a quarterfinal appearance in the World Championship the same year. Backed with unparalleled support from his brother, he continued to impress one and all with his grit and dedication. He won the gold medal in 2019 World Championships to announce his arrival in the flyweight category and has been unstoppable ever since.
Making his World Championship in the flyweight category, Amit Panghal became the first Indian to reach the final of the event. Although he lost to Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov, his feat was one to be remembered for ages. He has been the torchbearer of Indian boxing ever since his international debut and is now all set for his maiden Olympic appearance at the Tokyo Olympics.
Exclusive interview with Amit Panghal
On his road to Tokyo, Amit Panghal has been riding strong with a gold medal at the Boxing World Cup last year and an impressive showing in the Asian Championships. He yet again fell short against Zoirov in the final but it was a close fight this time as Panghal went down 3-2 in a split decision. The Haryana lad hails the fight as a psychological win and a great morale booster.
“It was a terrific bout and our strategy of attacking paid off. We had a complete change of game plan for the final bout and are happy with the approach and outcome. I was a little disappointed that the review was rejected but psychologically we had the advantage,” Panghal told FirstSportz in an exclusive interview.
Panghal shares that his training for the Summer Games is on track. He is overjoyed to have competitions in the build-up to the games. “We are training very hard as a team. I have been training under the national coaches and also my childhood coach, so it’s synergy all around. The preparations are going great. Thankfully we are getting good tournaments in the lead up to Tokyo games.“
Following his silver medal effort in the Asian Championships, Panghal had requested the authorities to allow his childhood coach Anil Dhankhar to be at the ringside during the Tokyo Olympics. While his request is yet to be approved, he is optimistic about Dhankar joining him for the Summer Games.
“We had requested and waiting for a response. His presence gives me a boost psychologically and hopefully, he will be allowed to be with me (during the Olympics),” he shares.
Also Read | ‘It was love at first sight, even though I was afraid at first’ – Four-time Olympian Edson Bindilatti opens up on his journey from a decathlete to bobsledding and much more | Firstsportz Exclusive
“We will win multiple medals,” Amit Panghal
During his short but eventful career, Panghal has had great success in every tournament he has featured thus far. When quizzed about his greatest achievement, he hailed his Asian Games gold medal win against Rio Olympics champion Hassanboy Dusmatov as his best moment in the ring.
He adds that the World Championship final bout with his nemesis and defending Olympic champion Zoirov is one of his most memorable games thus far. “Playing with Rio gold medalists from Uzbekistan Hassanboy (Dusmatov) in the Asian games and Zoirov at World Championships are the best moments,” the 25-year-old quips.
While Indian boxers were at the fore during India’s expedition at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, the Rio Olympics saw Indian boxers empty-handed. But the story is different this time as the Indian contingent is in tremendous form. Panghal too is optimistic that the Indian pugilists will make their mark this time around. “We will win multiple medals, no doubts,” he asserts.
As he gears up for his maiden Olympic appearance, Panghal shares that there is no additional pressure on his shoulders. He adds that he is looking to give his best at the Games and is eyeing the big prize, the gold medal. “I am 100% sure that we all will do good for India. I don’t take much pressure. A bout is a bout for me but yes I want to win a gold medal for my country, my family and my coach.“
Amit Panghal has had great success in the ring but he shares that the greatest moment in his career came at the Asian Games. The 25-year-old shares that his win against Rio gold medalist Hassanboy is the moment he felt absolutely high and on top of the world. “When I beat Hassonboy the first time,” he signs off.
Also Read | “Face adversity, knowing your purpose will get you through” – Paralympics gold medalist David Smith opens up on his incredible career, inspirations, mantra for success and more | FirstSportz Exclusive