Six-time Asian Championships medallist Shiva Thapa and 2019 Asian Championships silver medallist Deepak Bhoria will headline the Indian squad for the IBA Men’s Boxing World Championships in Tashkent.
The Tashkent Championships have already seen a registration of around 640 boxers from 104 countries including that of seven defending World Champions like Sofiane Oumiha from France, Japan’s Tomoya Tsuboi and Sewonrets Okazawa, Loren Alfonso from Azerbaijan, Saken Bibossinov from Kazakhstan and Cuba’s Yoenlis Hernandez Martinez and Julio La Cruz.
The gold medalists will walk away with a prize money of USD 200,000.The silver medallists are to be given USD 100,000, and both bronze-medallists will be awarded USD 50,000 each.In six weight categories- 51kg, 57kg, 63.5kg, 71kg, 80kg and 92kg, two Indian boxers each will participate in the training camp as reserve boxers are also accompanying the main team.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 13 Indians in the fray:
1: Govind Kumar Sahani (48 kg)
Date of Birth: 05/08/1997
Hometown: Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh
Boxing wasn’t always Govind Sahani’s first love. The pugilist from Gorakhpur wanted to achieve big things in karate before he shifted his interest towards boxing. And now he will represent India in the upcoming IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships.
Coming from a family of farmers, Govind’s family wasn’t always in favour of him pursuing a career in boxing. Given their financial difficulties, Govind’s parents weren’t keen on their son spending money and time pursuing sport as a career. The boxer, however, didn’t give up on his dreams and moved to the sports hostel in Meerut in 2011.
He competed in many tournaments, but his moment arrived when he switched allegiance to Nagaland and won a bronze medal at the 3rd Senior National Boxing Championship. Govind hasn’t looked back since and won medals in various national and international tournaments apart from landing a job with Assam Rifles.
Recently, he won a silver medal at the Strandja Memorial Boxing tournament in Bulgaria. The pugilist will be playing in his second World Championships in the upcoming tournament.
GOVIND KUMAR SAHANI - ACHIEVEMENTS
2: Deepak Kumar (51Kg)
Date of Birth: 09/06/1997
Hometown: Hisar, Haryana
In 2008, when Deepak was just an 11-year-old, he started boxing at the insistence of his uncle. His father was a constable and his mother, a homemaker, who also worked in the farms. Life was never easy. In 2009, due to dire financial constraints, young Deepak was forced to quit boxing as he couldn’t afford the expenses on diet and training, all crucial towards quality physical and mental training.
While his chances of becoming a boxer looking bleak, Deepak’s coach Rajesh Sheoran helped him back into the ring. He helped him by paying his diet and training expenses.
In 2011, when everything seemed to move smoothly, Deepak faced another obstacle when he suffered a career-threatening fracture to his right hand. The fracture continued to trouble him for almost two years before he underwent surgery.
Despite the setback, the injury changed Deepak’s perspectives on the discipline. While he was unable to move his right hand, he slowly strengthened his left hand which he says helped him a lot now as he is equally deft to fighting with both hands.
His individual struggles coincided with boxing as a sport going through a hard time with a dearth of competitions. Deepak’s financial situation also did not see much improvement with the pugilist even becoming a newspaper vendor to sustain himself.
2016 proved to a turning point for the man as he joined Madras Engineering Group, Bangalore. Later that year, he also was selected by the Army Sports Institute, Pune. With the finances handled, Deepak’s career saw an upswing. He won gold at the 2018 Senior National Championship and the 2019 Makran Cup on international debut.
Deepak carried that confidence into the 2019 Asian Boxing Championships and stormed into the final. He had to settle for silver in a tight match that went in favour of Nodirjon Mirzakhmedov of Uzbekistan 3-2.
He announced himself on the global stage in 2021 when he defeated the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallist and 2019 World Champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan at the Strandja Memorial tournament.
2022 was a tough year for Deepak as he sustained an injury in his right shoulder in January and consequently spent nearly the whole year on the sidelines. He will hope to make up for lost time in Tashkent.
DEEPAK KUMAR - ACHIEVEMENTS
3: Sachin (54kg)
Date of Birth: 25/11/2002
Hometown: Mitathal, Bhiwani
Hailing from a humble farmer’s family, Sachin’s journey to the world of boxing took shape thanks to his uncle’s support. His desire to become a boxer and represent India turned into reality when he was introduced to a boxing coach and then there was no looking back as he trained at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) to become one of the best upcoming boxers in the country.
Sachin rose to prominence in 2021 when he won a gold medal at the World Youth Championships in Poland. However, it wasn’t an easy task as he had lost in the domestic selection trials of the Adriatic Pearl Tournament which was held before the youth championship. The psychological impact of losing a domestic trial was heavy but the pugilist worked hard for his dreams and then won a medal in Poland.
At the National Championships in 2021, he announced his arrival at the elite level after defeating 2017 World Championships bronze medallist Gaurav Bidhuri.
Sachin couldn’t participate at the Asian Championships in Jordan in October 2022 as he underwent a surgery for appendicitis days before the championships. He came back strongly and won the gold medal at the National Championships in Hisar.
Most recently, Sachin won a bronze medal at the Strandja Memorial in Bulgaria this year which will certainly increase his confidence going into his debut Elite Men’s World Boxing Championships.
SACHIN - ACHIEVEMENTS
4. Mohammed Hussamuddin (57Kg)
Date of Birth: 12/04/1994
Hometown: Nizamabad, Telangana
Hailing from a family of boxers, Mohammed Hussamuddin is the youngest of six brothers, four of whom are seriously entrenched in the sport. Hussamuddin, whose role model is Vasyl Lomachenko, two-time Olympic Champion, was afraid to don the gloves until his father and coach, Mohammad Shamsuddin, got him to shed that fear and trained him at the Collectorate grounds in Nizamabad, north Telangana.
The 29-year-old went on to outshine his siblings and established himself in the state-level competitions before moving on to the national scene, making his debut in the 2009 junior Nationals at Aurangabad, claiming bronze. He turned it into gold in his debut at the senior nationals.
The boxer’s potential was spotted early and in 2011, he was sent to a fortnight-long stint of training and competition to Havana, Cuba, before participating in the 2012 Tammer Tournament in Finland and later in the Youth World Championship in Yerevan, Armenia.
His barren-run on the international stage ended with bronze at the 2015 Military World Games. Since then, he has been on the up and today he has evolved into one of the finest boxers in the country in his weight category.
With a bronze in Commonwealth Games 2018 and a gold in the Chemistry Cup, Hussamuddin continued to shine and bag silver at the Gee Bee Boxing Tournament in 2019. He won silver at the Boxam International in march 2021 and finished 2022 with bronze medal at CWG and Asian Championships.
One of the most experienced campaigners in the squad, Hussamuddin will be looking to make it count at his debut World Championships.
MOHAMMED HUSSAMUDDIN- ACHIEVEMENTS
5. Varinder (60kg)
Date of Birth: 17/05/1997
Place of birth: Patiala
The role played by Varinder’s father in his journey to the world of boxing is highly inspiring. Varinder, who was initially drawn towards cricket, was hand-held by his father, a proud policeman, to apply his skills in the individual sport of Boxing.
Varinder started training in 2010, but it was only after his father passed away in 2012 that he became more serious about the sport to fulfil his father’s dream. The tragedy was hard on him as it created financial constraints, and he had to drop out from a private school and move to a government school. His family was also facing financial limitations in terms of expenses to get the right products to continue his training.
Varinder kept at it under his coach Harpreet Singh Hundal. In 2013, he participated in the Junior Asian Championship and in 2015 he was promoted to the senior camp. Till date, he has won gold and a silver medal for India at international tournaments. He started his boxing career in the 56 kg bracket but then trained himself for 60kg.
Varinder won the bronze medal at the 2021 Asian Championships in Jordan and followed it up by winning the gold medal at the National Championships. The gold medal booked him a ticket to the 2021 World Championships held in Serbia. Varinder has gained a lot of experience and he shoulders India’s expectations in the 60 kg category.
A huge Floyd Mayweather fan, the Indian Railways employee will feature in his second World Championships.
VARINDER - ACHIEVEMENTS
6. Shiva Thapa (63.5 Kg)
Date of Birth: 08/12/1993
Place of Birth: Guwahati, Assam
It has been an incredible rise for the Guwahati lad as he became the youngest Indian to qualify for the Olympics when he featured in the 2012 edition of the quadrennial event in London. Shiva was also the youngest boxer from India to win a gold medal at the 2013 Asian Championships which was held in Amman, Jordan.
Youngest amongst six siblings, boxing runs in his blood. His brother was a silver medallist boxer at the 33rd Guwahati Nationals. Following his footsteps, Shiva has now scaled immense success and is one of the most respected boxers in the World.
He won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships in Doha, Qatar. The two-time Olympian went on to win two bronze medals in 2018 - one in the India Open International and one at the Ulaanbaatar Cup. Thapa then started 2019 with a silver medal from the Gee Bee Boxing Tournament.
He created history last year when he became the first male pugilist to win six Asian Championships medals after winning a silver medal in Jordan. His previous two silver medals came in 2017 and 2021. He also clinched the title in the 2013 edition and secured bronze medals in 2015 and 2019. He has been consistently winning medals for a decade now, a testimony to his longevity and talent.
The veteran will be keen to add another World Championships medal to his belt in coming weeks.
SHIVA THAPA- ACHIEVEMENTS
7. Akash Sangwan (67 kg)
Date of Birth: 20/02/2000
Hometown: Hisar, Haryana
Growing up in the same neighbourhood as Olympian Boxer Jai Bhagwan in Hisar, Akash Sangwan was introduced to boxing at a very early age. He started learning his basics in 2010 at the Universal Boxing Academy. He is Deepak’s classmate, another boxer in the Indian squad heading to Tashkent for the IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships.
After training in Hisar for four years, Akash joined Boys Sports Company (BSC) in ASI Pune in 2014 before joining services in 2018. He became serious towards boxing after joining BSC and realized he can achieve a lot.
In 2021, He won the gold medal at Elite National Championships in Bellary and booked his ticket for the World Championships in Serbia. It was his first International tournament at the elite level. He didn’t get bogged down by pressure and gave a good account of himself at the prestigious tournament.
Akash, who likes to play counter-attacking boxing from long reach, defeated Shiva Thapa in the semi-final of the National Games in Gujarat in 2022. The southpaw, who had previously lost to Shiva in the final of 2019 National Championships stated that defeating such a big player increased his confidence a lot.
He clinched the gold medal at the National Boxing Championship in Hisar and is confident of winning a medal at the upcoming Men’s World Boxing Championships in Uzbekistan.
AKASH SANGWAN- ACHIEVEMENTS
8. Nishant Dev (71 kg)
Date of Birth: 23/12/2000
Hometown: Karnal, Haryana
Nishant Dev burst onto the scene when he reached the quarter-finals of the Elite World Boxing Championship in 2021 in his debut International tournament.
Hailing from Haryana’s Karnal district, Nishant started boxing in 2012, after getting inspired by his uncle who was a professional boxer. He used to train at Karan stadium under coach Surender Chauhan. Nishant’s father would wake him up at 4am and accompany him to training and do the same in the evening to ensure his son was coached well.
Representing Karnataka, he lost in the quarter-finals at his first Senior National Championships in Baddi in 2019, but impressed the then high-performance director of Indian boxing Santiago Nieva and joined the Indian camp to learn from the best in the business.
In 2021, he won gold at the National Championships and went on to represent India at the World Championships. It was the first International tournament of his career as before that, he had not even competed at Junior or Youth level internationally. He impressed everyone with his fearless boxing as he played without any pressure. He defeated Hungary’s nine-time National Champion Laszlo Kozak in the first round before outclassing two-time Olympian Merven Clair of Mauritius in the second round. High on confidence after defeating two big names, he went on to win against Mexico’s Marco Alvarez Verde before bowing out in the quarter-finals.
Nishant dislocated his right shoulder in 2010 after falling down the stairs. This old injury came back to haunt him at the beginning of 2022 as the rod that was put in his shoulder in 2010 got infected. He underwent surgery in March and was in rehab for most of the year. During his rehabilitation period, he had a lot of doubts and insecurities regarding his comeback but working on his strength, power and conditioning. Despite limited training, he came back strong to retain his title at the National Boxing Championships in Hisar in January 2023.
Fitter, stronger and wiser, Nishant, another Mayweather fan in the squad, will consider himself a medal prospect in Tashkent this time.
NISHANT DEV - ACHIEVEMENTS
9: Sumit Kundu (75kg)
Date of birth: 01/11/2002
Place of birth: Dhakal Village, Jind
From working as a security guard in a school to securing his ticket for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, Sumit Kundu’s journey has been riddled with challenges. The 19-year-old boxer from Dhakal village in Haryana comes from a humble background. He lost his father when he was very young. His mother became the sole breadwinner, taking up tailoring jobs in order to look after the family.
Sumit started boxing in 2013. However, his family’s financial circumstances forced him to leave boxing and work as a security guard. However, elders from his village got together and supported him to keep his ambitions in boxing alive.
Sumit won gold at the National School Games in 2018 and at the Khelo India Games in 2019. He also became a junior national champion in 2018 where he was adjudged the best boxer. The prize money he earned from these events helped him afford his necessary dietary routines and training.
In 2021, he won the Senior Nationals title on debut. Later he went on to win the Thailand Open tournament and also represented India at the World Championships where he reached pre-quarters. One of his biggest wins came in the Strandja Memorial when he upstaged World Championships silver medallist Dzhambulat Bizhamov.
One of the most promising in the Indian squad, Sumit is ready for his second World Championships.
SUMIT KUNDU- ACHIEVEMENTS
10: Ashish Kumar (80kg)
Date of birth: 18/07/1994
Place of birth: Sundarnagar, Himachal Pradesh
Born into the family of boxers, it was watching his national medallist cousin train that inspired the young Ashish Kumar to enter the ring. The youngster dreamt of becoming like his cousin and that dream materialised when he was sent to the Sundernagar Boxing Club to get his first training at the age of 14.
He started flourishing at the junior level soon after and won gold at a junior state competition in 2008-09. The Junior Nationals followed soon where he made it to the quarters.
After a bronze at the School Nationals, he played the Youth Nationals in 2012. That same year, he played the Senior Nationals for the very first time. Despite his best efforts, he was not able to win crucial bouts and finish on the podium. Before the 2015 National Games, he told his family that he will give up on boxing if he doesn’t win gold. Fortunately for him, the gold medal was won and there was no turning back.
In 2018, he secured the bronze at the Nationals and another bronze at the Asian Games Test event. He made it to the quarters of the India Open that same year and also participated at the President’s Cup.
The 28-year-old, who aspires to be an Olympic medallist, truly made heads turn when he won silver at the Asian Boxing Championships in 2019. It also made him the first Asian medallist from Himachal Pradesh. He then went on to win his first international gold medal at 2019 Thailand Open.
A month before the Olympic qualifiers in Jordan in March 2020, Ashish faced a major setback when he lost his father. He remained focused despite the personal loss and gave his best to qualify for the Olympics and fulfill his father’s dream.
The Olympian is a much more experienced boxer now and is all set to give his best at the upcoming World Championships in Kazakhstan.
ASHISH KUMAR- ACHIEVEMENTS
11. Harsh Choudhary (86 kg)
Date of Birth: 19/05/2002
Hometown: Jaipur, Rajasthan
Rajasthan isn’t a hub of boxing in India, but it didn’t stop youngster Harsh Choudhary from dreaming big. Harsh’s father was a national-level kabaddi player and he enrolled his son in a boxing so that he does something productive with his life.
Harsh learned the basics of boxing there. After winning a medal at the national level in 2017, he moved to SAI, Hisar the following year to improve his game under coach Mohinder Singh Daka. The young pugilist has played in different weight categories in his career so far and has won numerous medals.
Harsh prefers to use long-range attacks and counters to earn most of his points. He remembers all the struggles that he has gone through to reach where he is right now and is ready to play his first senior International tournament at the upcoming IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships in Uzbekistan.
HARSH CHOUDHARY- ACHIEVEMENTS
12. Naveen Kumar (92 kg)
Date of Birth: 02/09/1993
Hometown: Charkhi Dadri, Haryana
Hailing from a small village in the Charkhi Dadri district of Haryana, southpaw Naveen Kumar will be looking to give his everything in the upcoming IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships. While growing up in the village, Naveen was mostly interested in team sports such as kabaddi, cricket and volleyball but eventually switched to boxing at an early age to achieve big things in the combat sport. Starting out, Naveen was the only boxer in his village which meant a paucity of resources and infrastructure. So he would spend three hours every day to go train in Bhiwani.
Naveen’s dream got a major boost when he was selected for the Indian camp in 2019. He was in the 92+ kg category while joining the camp and followed the advice of the then chief high-performance director Santiago Nieva to change his weight category. It turned out to be a successful move for him as he won many medals in the category including silver medals at the 5th Elite Men’s National Boxing Championships and 36th National Games.
The lanky pugilist also won the gold medal at the 2023 National Championships after defeating 2021 Asian Champion Sanjeet in the final. Naveen had earlier lost to Sanjeet in the final of 2021 Nationals. He also participated in the Asian Boxing Championships which gave him ample experience to compete with the best boxers in the world and it will be on display in the upcoming World Championships
NAVEEN KUMAR- ACHIEVEMENTS
13. Narender Berwal (92+ kg)
Date of Birth: 14/11/1994
Hometown: Hisar, Haryana
Narender Berwal started boxing in 2009 and soon moved to SAI Centre to improve his skills and make a name for himself. He trained there for four years and won gold medals in two Youth National Boxing championships in 2011 and 2012 before joining the Indian Army in 2013.
Joining the Army changed Narender Berwal’s career as his training regime got more intense and the results became more consistent. He trained at ASI Pune and won numerous medals in the inter-services Boxing Championships which helped him prepare for bigger competitions.
He then won gold at the 2019 SAF Games in Nepal.
Narender, who relies on his power and strength, won the gold medal at the National Championships in 2021 and finished in the quarterfinals at the World Championships in the same year. In October last year, he won bronze at the Asian Men’s Boxing Championships. Narender will now look to register a medal to his name at IBA Men’s World Boxing Championships in Uzbekistan.
NARENDER BERWAL - ACHIEVEMENTS
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