Starting today, The Sporting Hub will be carrying exclusive guest columns by renowned athletes and coaches as part of our Tokyo Olympics coverage. We start with Shiv Singh, a Dronacharya awardee and former national boxing coach, who looks at India’s prospects in boxing.
Before getting into the details of the nine-member Indian boxing contingent for the Tokyo Games, readers must know about the strengths of the Olympic-bound boxers.
Amit Panghal (Men, 52kg): One of the southpaw boxers (the left hand is the main punching hand) in the squad. Agile and swift in the ring, his main weapon is the ability to attack, step back and attack again which can upset the best in the business. He is one of the few boxers who can attack from different angles to surprise rivals. Therefore, he is considered the best bet in his category.
Manish Kaushik (Men, 63kg): Another southpaw but his main strength is the single-punch attack. His unpredictable moves and consistent performance give him an advantage over others.
Vikas Krishan (Men, 69kg): The most experienced boxer in the Indian squad, having competed at the 2012 London Olympics Games and Rio 2016. In his third Olympics, he has switched to 69kg from 75kg. He too is a southpaw but has a different style of play from Amit and Manish. He can adapt his game according to the opponent, and this is his biggest strength. Armed with experience and power-packed punches, Vikas will be the one to watch out for.
Ashish Kumar (Men, 75kg): The tall, orthodox boxer has variation in attack, which can be considered his strength to tackle opponents.
Satish Kumar (Men, 91+kg): The heavyweight boxer can tackle both southpaw and orthodox boxers, and the will to win is his main strength.
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MC Mary Kom (Women, 51kg): The 2012 London Olympic Games bronze medallist is the most experienced woman boxer in the Indian contingent. The six-time world champion is considered the best medal bet in the Indian side. A southpaw, she can tackle opponents with ease. She takes time to settle down but thereafter unleashes a series of attacks to upset rivals. On a given day, she can beat the best.
Simranjit Kaur (Women, 60kg): A steady orthodox boxer, she has been consistent in her performance since 2018.
Lovlina Borgohain (Women, 69kg): The tall, experienced boxer is known as a hard hitter on the circuit. The southpaw has variation in attack and her long reach is an advantage.
Pooja Rani (Women, 75kg): Another good southpaw with vast experience. She is a hard hitter and prefers to operate from the middle of the ring and close distance.
The pandemic has changed the complexion of combat sports like boxing. Lack of sparring partners at the Tokyo Games Village could be a disadvantage for all as COVID-19 protocols do not allow athletes of one country to mix with those from other nations. So, there could be surprises in store as the competition unfolds.