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I believe I can become World champion: Panghal

All about confidence: Amit Panghal says he knows his game and needs to evolve further.  

It was a historic day for Indian boxing as Amit Panghal entered the record books by becoming the first men’s pugilist to bag a silver medal at the World Championships, held at Ekaterinburg (Russia) on Saturday.

The journey has been far from easy. From Rohtak to Russia, boxing against odds, the pint-sized boxer has come a long way.

“It was a surreal moment when I entered the ring. I knew it was going to be tough, but I gave it all I had. Gold is what I dreamt of, but I am happy with the silver,” Panghal told Sportstar from Russia.

Though his signature salute after winning a bout has become a big hit, it’s the kiss on the India jersey before entering the ring that Panghal prides himself on.

“India, Bharat” he pauses as a flood of emotions choke him. “It’s a dream to wear this (India) jersey. To represent my nation is an honour and I would like to thank my brother Ajay who encouraged me to take up the sport. I believe one day I can become the World Champion,” he said.

Traditionally, tall boxers enjoy an advantage as they have greater reach when throwing punches and can also defend effectively. The final proved that as Panghal went down to Olympic champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in an intense 52kg bout.

Against the 5’7’’ ft tall Uzbek, the 5’2’’ Panghal failed to land his punches accurately and when counter-attacked opened up his defence jacket.

Height factor

“I can’t help with my height but I am trying to work how to tame the taller boxers. It was not the first time I was facing the taller guys.

“I discussed it with my coaches and there was a Plan B. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t pull it off today,” said Panghal, who had beaten Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov (5’6”) in the semifinal.

Nimble feet, speed, ducking and swaying and, most importantly, the sideways movement to disable the opponent’s reach, make Panghal a tough opponent. “That’s my game and I need to evolve further. Inside the ring, I am myself and the trick is to maintain my composure when the opponent is attacking. I know I have a good defence and I can understand what the opponent is thinking. I like to keep moving around the ring,” he said.

The reigning Asian champion has now set his sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“Bagging a silver at the Worlds is an achievement but to win an Olympic medal is a dream for every athlete. The training has to be right and, more importantly, the process. It’s important to train in a specific manner and it involves a lot of dedication, determination and effort. Technique-wise nothing is going to change drastically, but I need to develop in certain areas. I will definitely come out a better boxer,” said Panghal.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2021 4:56:56 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/other-sports/i-believe-i-can-become-world-champion-panghal/article29483085.ece

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