Sumit Sangwan ‘back on track’ and ready to fight for Olympic qualifier berth

Sangwan, arguably one of the biggest underachievers in Indian boxing, believes he can still win a medal at the highest level.

Eyeing a resurgence: Sumit Sangwan at the National Boxing Championships on Tuesday.   -  Akhilesh Kumar

Sumit Sangwan is arguably one of the biggest underachievers in Indian boxing.

Sangwan takes the ‘hard luck’ in his stride and believes he can still win a medal at the highest level.

As a 19-year-old, Sangwan had lost 14-15 to Brazil’s Yamaguchi Falcao (who went on to win a bronze medal) in a controversial (round of 32) 81kg bout at the London Olympics in 2012. It was dubbed as ‘daylight robbery.’

Four years later, when he recovered from two surgeries to make the World Olympic qualifier in Baku, luck deserted Sangwan again. He lost to Petr Khamukov in the quarterfinals and needed the Russian to beat his next opponent (Azerbaijan’s Teymur Mammadov) to make the cut for the Rio Olympics. “The Russian was in good form and would have won easily, but he had already qualified and gave walkover to his opponent. And, I could not qualify,” Sangwan told Sportstar at the National Boxing Championships here.

The 26-year-old strapping southpaw, who was out of action for some time due to a right elbow injury, looked at the positives.

‘Big jump’

“I tell myself what I am capable of and maintain the positivity. Being in 81kg was not suitable for my physique. My bones used to break because of that. I had to switch to 91kg in 2017. It was a big jump and I needed some time to adjust to it fully.

“In 81kg, I used to fight with boxers who were shorter or equal to me in height. In 91kg, they were at least of my height or taller than me. Also, I felt the impact of punches when my guard was up. Then, I worked on gaining strength and got medals in the Asian Championships (2017) and India Open (2018).”

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Sangwan credits his coach Rajkumar Sangwan, a former Asian champion and an Arjuna award winner, for inculcating an analytical approach to boxing. “I was trained to look at various aspects. When you break your bones and spend time on the hospital bed, you get wiser too.”

Sangwan feels he is ready to fight for an Olympic qualifier berth. “The competition has increased at the domestic level, but I am back on track. I need some competitions to peak,” said Sangwan.