Indian boxing ace Amit Panghal working on 'power and reach'

Having graduated from 49kg to 52kg, the energetic boxer is working on his “power game” as he gears up to compete in the Olympics.

Gearing up: Amit Panghal will next participate in the Olympic qualifier in February, 2020. Photo: Anant Kaur

For Amit Panghal, the change of weight category to be able to compete in the Olympics is proving to be the biggest challenge inside the ring. Having graduated from 49kg to 52kg, the energetic boxer is aiming to give his best as he prepares for the big event.

He spoke to Sportstar on his qualification race, his strong points and more..

Q. How do you assess yourself in terms of competition?

A. Practice is very important. The confidence which I get from practice helps me prepare well. I am mentally more prepared if I practise well. If we practise well then we will know how well we are prepared in front of our opponents. How we will play against them on the ring depends on our practice.

What lacked in the World Boxing Championship final?

All opponents in my weight category are tall. Our strategy worked well till some extent but I felt I lacked power against Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov, the reigning Olympic champion. I need to practise more on power, endurance and reach. Against those who are the same height as me, I have to play with more power. [I] cannot play defensive and close.

What has been your progress, according to what people have expected from you in the last one year? Do you think you have improved like you wanted to?

I have definitely improved a lot in my weight category. I have worked on my power and reach. Earlier my attack was only of one or two punches. My game was about defence first then counter and more of single punches. We have added a lot of power in my punches, in counter-punches there is more coordination now. Basically, I have added multiple punches in my game because one can save oneself from a single punch but not from two, three or four. Points can be earned by attacking continuously.

Was there any special plan?

Yes, we have been working according to our plan. When the big competitions come, we have to prepare and plan accordingly. We knew there would be big champions like Olympic champions and world champion, they all will come in 52kg category and that weight category boxers will already be there, we had to practise well especially on the reach.

Read | Amit Panghal: Walking tall among taller opponents

What are your preparations for Olympic qualifiers which will happen in Wuhan, China, in February next year?

Power game is what I am working on. In the final bout, I thought I lost because of lack of power. Final bout was the main thing and I should have done better. Now, I am adding more punches along with correct footwork. Indian boxers will also benefit from the upcoming boxing league as the strategies of the various international boxers can be watched. Their daily schedule, regime will help us. Mainly practising with them will help us improve in our game and gain experience which will benefit us for the upcoming tournaments.

How will it improve your game?

They will play together in one team, we will all follow them and discuss their style of playing with our coaches. With their company we will be able to perform better. India camp is starting from 15th November which will prepare us well. Only two months are left, league will help us (boxers) gain experience.

Who is the main competition in 52kg category?

Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, as they have the natural power to do boxing. In this category also the boxers are experienced as they are Olympic medalists and world champions.

How has the transition been? What changes you had to make in terms of strength for the competition in your weight?

From 49kg to 52kg, the transition was smooth as we got a lot of time to prepare. In this category, they have more power and reach. I said reach because they are very tall. I used to train with tall boxers who were one weight category higher to test our reach and power.

Amit Panghal: "It is my responsibility to make my country proud." Photo: PTI

 

What would you like to say about your coaches? What different have you learnt from the foreign coach and Indian coach?

I have learnt a lot from all my coaches. Santiago trains very well. His training schedule is very unique from others. For example, earlier we used to work on one thing once in a week and on the contrary now we repeat that one single technique the whole week in every training session. Then the next week he will make us work on a new technique for the whole week. By the time competition comes we will be well trained in all our techniques. And for final bouts, we all watch videos to plan the game according to the next opponent. He prepares every boxer well mentally and physically. If we have fought with every boxer in the camp in our respective weight category then he will call boxers from outside the camp for training. Daily if we fight against the same opponent then he will know our game.

Fighting with various others will help us gain experience and how does he play and how we play with new ones. All coaches in the camp are well updated. They make good schedules for children. With my national coach, I talk about weakness and strengths. Most importantly, if all my coaches tell the same thing then I work on it too. Doing one thing again and again makes a habit.

Read | Olympic qualifiers will be as tough as World Championships

Indian boxers lack in power especially in the small weight category like me. It was there before Santiago. He makes us do weight training three times in one week with open weights. Trainers came from Sweden three times. Every two months there is a physical test. In every test there is an improvement in the boxer’s power. It is a big thing.

What describes your boxing? Is it aggression or is it defensive? Or do you rely more on counter-attacking? What are your strong points?

In the first round, I observe my opponent’s playing style, if he is playing counter or aggressive then I play accordingly. My main game is counter-attack. However, I always observe how my opponent is playing then we make the strategy accordingly and play on those lines. I wait for my opponent to play his game, basically study it, is he playing defensive, aggressive or counter?

How much does the diet matter to you?

Liquid intake is more after daily routine training. When the camp starts coaches give us everything approved via federation. Non-vegetarian eaters have more power. Non-veg is mandatory for all of us to eat to enhance power and those who didn’t eat were told to start eating to enhance power.

What is your upcoming tournament and how are you preparing for it?

Olympic qualifier in February[, 2020]. We are preparing well for our best performance there. We will all be taken out of India for training after we qualify.

You are now a Subedar in the army? How do you juggle both?

Army has supported me a lot. There is no pressure on me through them. They have freed us (sportspersons) for sport. They told us to make our country proud by performing well. They have promoted me. It is my responsibility to make my country proud.