Amit Panghal: Olympic qualifiers will be as tough as World Championships

As a build-up to the qualifiers in February, 2020, Panghal will participate in the World Military Games next month, and the Indian Boxing League.

Amit Panghal (left) lands a punch on Carlo Paalam of the Philippines at the World Boxing Championships. Photo: PTI

Amit Panghal, fresh from a silver medal at the World Championships, expects a tough challenge at the Asia/Oceania Zone qualifiers in China in February, 2020.

The tourney will serve as the qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics.

“For us who are in the lower weight category, the level of competition at Asian qualifiers is same as World Championships. Most of the Asian boxers win medal at the Olympics or World Championships. So it will be tough,” Panghal told PTI.

“Of course, the World qualifiers will be tougher as U.S. and European boxers will also participate,” he added.

The World Championships did not have the Olympic qualifier status after the International Olympic Committee suspended the International Boxing Association from conducting boxing in the Olympics in Tokyo. “At least three-four of us would have qualified if World Championships were still the Olympic qualifiers. It would have been a big achievement,” Panghal noted.

'Can't afford to let it slip'

Panghal admitted he needed to work on his strength and power. “I will work on my strength and stamina. We will improve as we inch towards the qualifiers. We have to held on to our top form, we can’t effort to let it slip a bit till the Olympics,” he said.

Read | World C'ship medal in the bag, Panghal eyes Olympic glory

As a build-up to the qualifiers, Panghal will participate in the World Military Games next month, and the Indian Boxing League. “These competitions will help in our preparations for the qualifiers as we will get the chance of playing many world level boxers with different styles, different strategies and mental strength, so we it will only boost our performance,” he said.

Read | Panghal shows he belongs to the highest level

Panghal's performance at the World Championship will serve as a huge boost to his confidence for 2020. Reflecting on the significance of the silver medal, he said, “I never thought that in a few years, I would win medals in big events. It is not easy because in the past also I have been to World Championships, failed and even cried after missing out on a medal.”

'Overwhelming'

Panghal and his colleagues were given a warm welcome after they returned to India on Monday after being part of India's best-ever performance at the Championships.

“It was quite overwhelming to see so many people come to welcome us. I had to stop a lot of my friends from coming to the airport,” he said.