Boxer Ashish Kumar reveals early struggles before success
For Indian boxer Ashish Kumar, 2019 was a year to remember.
A silver at the Asian Championships, a title at the Thailand Open and an admirable performance at the World Championships saw Ashish Kumar establish himself as the Indian contender in the 75kg category, a division that has given the nation stars like Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishan.
And the pugilist from Sundernagar once again showed his quality at the Asian Olympic Boxing Qualifiers earlier this year to book his place at the Tokyo Olympics.
But this rise hasn’t come without its fair share of struggles. The 25-year old had even contemplated quitting the sport.
“When I started boxing at the junior level, I felt it would be easy because I was always a brawler. But, when I reached the national level I couldn’t give the best performance,” Ashish Kumar said narrating his story on an Instagram Live session with wrestler-turned-actor Sangram Singh.
“I used to lose my first, second or third fight in every competition and get eliminated. I felt I wasn’t made for the sport and will not achieve much.”
Still in his teens, Ashish Kumar managed to convince his family and moved to Haryana to join the Bhiwani Boxing Club or more fondly known as Little Cuba in India due to the multitude of boxers hailing from the region.
Making everyone believe
At Bhiwani, he would train under coach Devraj Singh for 5-6 years before returning to the national stage. But despite the concentrated effort, Ashish Kumar was unable to deliver the desired results.
“I remember, I was confident of winning the (2013) Senior Nationals that year. If not winning, I knew I could get a medal, at the very least,” he said recounting the testing phase in his career.
“I lost the third round to a boxer that I never thought I would lose to. That broke my self-confidence. I thought of quitting boxing and taking up a normal job.”
But before making the switch, the Indian international decided to give boxing, a sport that he had dedicated a good part of his early life to, one final go.
In 2015, Ashish Kumar would scramble to make the Himachal team for the National Games and it was here that his fortunes would change.
“I had decided if not this I would give up boxing and try something else. But luckily things worked out for me at the National Games,” said Ashish Kumar.
“I beat the reigning national champion in the semi-finals and won the final to claim the gold medal. That win was like a new ray of hope in my life.
“From being nothing to defeating the champion, I made everyone believe I could do bigger things,” he concluded.