What India learnt from the Asia boxing Olympic qualifiers

India enjoyed a lot of success in the qualifiers but still room for improvement ahead of Tokyo 2020.

By Andre Pitts ·

India enjoyed plenty of success in the recently concluded Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in Jordan, Amman with as many as nine Indian boxers qualifying for the 2020 Olympics.

However, none of the Tokyo-bound boxers managed to win gold at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers with Vikas Krishan and Simranjit Kaur’s silver medals being the best performances by Indians in Amman.

Here, we have a closer look at some of the takeaways from their performance.

Mary Kom during her quarter-final bout at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers Image courtesy: BFI

India’s largest-ever boxing contingent for the Olympics

Regardless of what happens in the world qualifiers in Paris in a couple of months time, India has already created a little bit of history with their biggest-ever boxing contingent assured of tickets to Tokyo.

Nine of the 13 boxers earned the right to take part in Tokyo, already making it India’s biggest group of pugilists to take part in an Olympic Games.

Amit Panghal, Ashish Kumar, Vikas Krishan, Satish Kumar and Manish Kaushik qualified amongst the men, while Mary Kom, Pooja Rani, Lovlina Borgohain and Simranjit Kaur qualified in their respective women’s weight divisions.

Even if no other boxer were to qualify from the world qualifiers in Paris, India can be safe in the knowledge of having nine contenders ready for action in Tokyo.

Amit Panghal looks for better in Tokyo

The world number one and top seeded Indian flyweight was expected to stamp his authority on his competition at the Asia boxing Olympic qualifiers, but found it tough going in the ring.

Amit Panghal won his first bout at the qualifiers after coming out on top following a narrow 3-2 split against Mongolian Enkhmanadakh Kharkhuu, who had reason to feel hard done by.

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Amit, who faded in dramatic fashion towards the end of his first bout, had to slug it out in his subsequent fight as well. He was up against the Philippines’ Carlo Paalam in what was another close contest that the Indian somewhat fortuitously won by a 4-1 split.

The win helped him earn his ticket to Tokyo before crashing out in the semi-final against China’s Jianguan Hu, who won by split decision. After the fight, Amit Panghal spoke to the Olympic Channel and admitted that he needed to improve in the buildup to Tokyo 2020.

“I’ll try to be better and adapt my strategy to whatever boxers I face there. I’ll try to watch videos of them and try to prepare myself appropriately,” he said.

Mary Kom to call upon her experience

The six-time flyweight world champion won her first two bouts via unanimous decision to qualify for her second Olympics following the heartbreak of missing out on Rio 2016. The bronze medallist from London 2012, however, succumbed to a split decision loss in the semi-finals against China’s Chang Yuan.

The 23-year-old’s swift movement and smart punch picking got the better of Mary Kom. At 37 years of age, the Indian icon will be one of the oldest boxers participating in Tokyo and she will need to be wary of her younger opponents looking to make the best use of their youthful reflexes and speed.

Mary Kom, though, has experience in her corner and the Indian legend revealed how she plans on using it to contend with her rivals’ tempo in the ring.

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“Experience allows me to control the pace of bouts. I face a lot of aggressive and fast girls now but what they don’t have is experience and I ensure that it becomes my biggest weapon," Mary Kom revealed.

Naman Tanwar loss could be Sumit Sangwan’s gain

Naman Tanwar suffered India’s first defeat at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers and whether he is chosen to represent his country once again in the world qualifiers in Paris in May remains to be seen.

The Indian heavyweight lost to Syria’s Alaa Ghousoon in his first bout of the qualifiers as he failed to book a heavyweight berth for his country.

However, whether or not the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) deem him to be India’s best option to qualify for the heavyweight division is anybody’s guess at the moment.

With Sumit Sangwan’s one-year doping ban now lifted by National Anti-Doping Agency’s (NADA), the former Asian silver medallist becomes another option for the BFI to choose from. Sumit Sangwan, of course, is a more experienced boxer than Naman Tanwar and could be India’s answer as far as sealing a berth in the heavyweight division at the 2020 Olympics goes.