His fresh face is a mask which hides steely resolve, intense focus and back-breaking hard work.

These qualities, however, reflect in the 19-year-old Shiva Thapa’s short but prolific career graph. Thapa, an Olympian, has become only the third Indian in 20 years to win a gold medal at the Asian boxing championship.

Undoubtedly, he is the new poster boy of Indian boxing.

Thapa, who won the 56kg Asian title in Amman (Jordan) on Sunday, takes pride in his sport.

“I am always focused on my profession. You are not born with such a quality. I have made it a habit over the years. I do a lot of meditation, concentrate on my job, and work hard,” Thapa told The Hindu from Amman on Tuesday.

Since 2010, the year in which he bagged silver medals at the Youth Olympics and World Youth events, Thapa has climbed the ladder steadily and quickly.

The Assamese teenager has had his share of failures and frustrations too. But the steel in him did not let him yield.

In 2011, he overcame a shoulder injury, and proved himself against a seasoned campaigner like Akhil Kumar in the bantamweight trials.

Thapa stunned three top boxers — Athens Olympics silver medallist and Asian Games winner Worapoj Retchkoon of Thailand, Asian championship bronze medallist Shimizu and Asian Games bronze winner Wessan Salaname of Syria — to win the qualifying event in Astana, Kazakhstan, and book a berth for the London Olympics.

Thapa exited from the London Games early, but he was richer in experience.

“There is a big difference (between the Olympics and other events). I met a lot of boxers and learnt a lot,” he said, of his experience at the Games.

“I realised that when you represent your country at the highest level, it is difficult to face a loss.

“Even though there was no competition after the Olympics, I continued with my training for almost a year, and it paid off.”

Assessing his performance at the Asian championship in Jordan, Thapa said: “I have become more aggressive and I have improved my power.”

National chief coach G.S. Sandhu says, “the kid has a bright future.”

“Shiva is a technically improved boxer now. He put up some fine counter-attacks.

“If he adds more power to his punches, he will emerge a stronger boxer.”

More In: Other Sports | Sport