Manish Kaushik wins India’s only gold at Boxam as COVID cases hit boxers

Nine Indian boxers had made it to the final of the tournament in Spain. Five had to pull out because of COVID-related concerns.

By Ubaid Parkar

Tokyo-bound Manish Kaushik was the only gold medal winner for India at the Boxam tournament in Castellon, Spain as the contingent was struck by COVID-19 cases on Saturday.

Manish Kaushik won the 63kg final against Denmark’s Teteryan Nikolai by a 3:2 split decision. A 14-member Indian boxing squad, including all nine Tokyo-bound boxers, participated at the Boxam tournament.

Nine Indian boxers -- six men and three women -- made it to the finals but only four took to the ring.

Olympic-bound Ashish Kumar (75kg) tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of his final and withdrew. Mohammad Hussamuddin (57kg) and Sumit Sangwan (81kg) also had to pull out from their respective final bouts since they were Ashish’s room-mates in Spain.

Satish Kumar (+91kg), meanwhile, did not take the ring as he was unwell.

Vikas Krishan lost his 69kg fight by a 4:1 split verdict to Rio Olympian Youba Sissokho Ndiaye of Spain and settled for a silver.

Youba’s series of close-range powerful jabs and effective combinations gave him an edge even as Vikas responded with a flurry of body shots against the nimble-footed Spaniard.

Vikas, who received a cut about his right eye, was also unable to connect well, particularly in the third round while Youba continued to land power-packed punches and sealed the game.

In the women’s category, young Jasmine lost her 57kg bout 5:0 to reigning European champion and Rio 2016 Olympian Irma Testa of Italy. Jasmine had an impressive tournament nevertheless, having beaten defending Boxam champion Andrea Medina of the USA in the quarters by unanimous decision on Wednesday.

In the 75kg, Pooja Rani lost 5:0 to American Naomi Graham, whose quick counterattacks proved too much for the Indian boxer.

Simranjit Kaur had to forfeit her 60kg match to American Rashida Ellis after the Indian’s semi-final opponent Kiria Tapia of Puerto Rico tested positive for COVID-19. Simranjit tested negative but local government regulations prevented her from taking the ring.

All boxers who withdrew from the final of the tournament were awarded the silver medal. India thus ended the Boxam meet with one gold, eight silvers and a bronze.

The bronze went to Indian boxing legend Mary Kom, who was ousted in the semi-final on Friday. World No. 1 in the 52kg Amit Pangal was eliminated in the quarters.