Indian boxing didn’t have any success at the Olympics in the previous century despite sending some world-class pugilists.
Akhil Kumar, Jitender Kumar, Dingko Singh have all competed in the Olympics but none of them could finish on the podium.
However, things took a turn in 2008 when Vijender Singh became the first Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal. The win started a movement in India as more boxers upped their aspiration levels while some even went on to repeat Vijender Singh’s achievements.
Here, we list all the Indian boxers who have won Olympic medals and how they did it.
Vijender Singh – Bronze medal, Beijing 2008 Olympics, men’s 75kg
After a first-round exit at the Athens Games in 2004, Vijender Singh trained with a renewed focus for the next Olympics. The Haryana-born pugilist claimed medals at the Asian Games, Asian championships and Commonwealth Games before heading to Beijing.
At Beijing 2008, middleweight boxer Vijender Singh overcame challenges from Badou Jack (Gambia) and Angkhan Chomphuphuang (Thailand) in the first two rounds. But the bout against the Thai boxer left the Indian in severe pain.
However, Vijender Singh recovered in the next three days to take the ring against Ecuador’s Carlos Gongora in the quarter-final.
The Indian used his excellent footwork and sharp jabs to defeat the Ecuadorian 9-4 and confirm the first boxing medal for India at an Olympics.
Although Vijender Singh lost the fight against Cuba’s Emilio Correa, he returned with the third prize since two bronze medals are awarded in boxing.
Mary Kom – Bronze medal, London 2012 Olympics, women’s 51kg
When women’s boxing was first introduced in the Olympics at London 2012, Mary Kom was already a five-time world champion and a four-time Asian champion.
After winning all her accolades in the lower weight divisions (pinweight and light flyweight), the boxer from Manipur had to move up a weight class to compete at the Olympics.
She adapted well. The flyweight boxer beat former world champion Karolina Michalczuk from Poland in the round of 16 to set up a quarter-final clash with Maroua Rahali from Tunisia.
Mary Kom made short work of the Tunisian athlete and reigned supreme with 15-6 victory to assure a medal for herself.
The Indian lost to eventual gold medallist Nicola Adams in the semi-finals but added another piece of metal to her shining collection.
The bronze medal made Mary Kom the third Indian woman athlete, after Karnam Malleswari and Saina Nehwal, to win an Olympic medal.
Lovlina Borgohain - Bronze medal, Tokyo 2020 Olympics, women’s 69kg
Although Lovlina Borgohain made her Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020, she fought brilliantly against more experienced opponents on the way to the podium.
Heading into the Tokyo Olympics as the world No. 5, the welterweight boxer from Assam faced a tough challenge from German Nadine Apetz in her opening bout. However, Lovlina used her combinations expertly to prevail victorious after three evenly contested rounds and move to the last eight.
The quarter-final saw her thumping the fourth seed and former world champion Chen Nien-chin of Chinese Taipei.
Having lost four previous bouts against the same opponent, Lovlina Borgohain beat the odds to win the match by a 4:1 split verdict and advance to the semi-final.
Although Lovlina Borgohain lost to world champion Busenaz Surmeneli in the semi-final, she ensured that a bronze medal was added to India's tally at Tokyo 2020.