No rest for Amit Panghal in Olympic boxing quest

With his eyes firmly fixed on an Olympic medal, the Indian boxer is keen to leave no stone unturned in his quest for glory at the Tokyo Games.

By Naveen Peter

He might be one of the finest boxers to emerge from India in recent years but Amit Panghal knows that his reputation will count for nothing when he steps into the ring at the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Having qualified for the Games on the back of some smart boxing at the Asian Olympic Boxing Qualifiers early this year, the 24-year-old will board the flight for Japan as one of the medal favourites for the country.

But Panghal knows that it will be tough to make it onto the podium at Tokyo 2020.

“It won’t be easy, that’s a guarantee,” the Indian boxer told Olympic Channel in a recent interview. “Winning gold is what every athlete dreams about throughout his life. It’s been no different for me.

“My first target was to make it to the Games. Now that qualification is secured, I want to ensure that I give my 100 per cent at the Tokyo Games and not leave anything to chance.

“You have the best in the business coming down for the Games every time, and Tokyo won’t’ be any different. My job is to ensure that I give my all in training and be in top shape.”

The boxer from Rohtak, Haryana has cemented his position among the world elite in his flyweight class, recently reaching the number one ranking for his category.

But Panghal still believes he has a lot to learn.

“I have been on the circuit for a while, but I don’t think it’s a long period. I haven’t fought the guys from Cuba. The one from Great Britain (Yafai Galal) is good and so is (Shakhobidin) Zoirov of Uzbekistan,” he said when asked to list down boxers he had earmarked for the Games.

“Like I have always maintained - and this is something I keep reminding myself time and again - I might have won a few medals, but there are guys who have beaten me in the past. Those are the ones I will be watching out for.”

Focus is on staying fit

Though Amit Panghal is confined in his house given a nationwide lockdown in India to curb the spread of COVID-19, he has been fortunate to be allowed inside the indoor arena of the Maharshi Dayanand University, which is at a stone's throw distance from his house.

Here the Indian boxer has teamed up with his early coach Anil Dhankhar to continue working on his craft.

“The college authorities have been considerate enough to let me use the premises. I have my coach (Anil Dhankhar) who’s helping me with the drills,” the silver medallist at the 2019 World Championships stated.

“I am working on building my strength and endurance for now. Since I can’t step out onto the ground, space is also restricted. I try to make the most of what’s available to me. Be it running for about 30 minutes daily or be it working on various drills. I can work on my speed later. That shouldn’t take a long time. The plan is to utilise this time in the best way possible.

“Focus is on staying fit. I want to ensure that I stay in shape and be prepared when the time comes to take the ring.”

With the central government relaxing the norms while extending the lockdown by another two weeks, Amit Panghal along with the other Olympic-bound athletes will be hopeful of resuming their training soon.