World Boxing Championships: After four years of ignominy, Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik lead India's resurgence

Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik, through to the World Boxing Championships semifinals, have the chance to win India its first silver medal at the tournament.

Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik are through to the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Championships.   -  PTI

Twenty-three-year-old soldiers Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik – who advanced to the semifinals to ensure medals and help India achieve its best-ever performance in the men’s World Boxing Championships – presented the story of the country’s steady rise in the sport.

After Vijender Singh’s World and Olympic medal-winning performances, Indian boxing suffered four years of ignominy due to factionalism.

India, which had gathered only four bronze medals in the history of the event, once again looked like a force to reckon with thanks to Panghal and Kaushik’s good work.

While Panghal, an Asian Games and Asian championships gold medal winner, was one of the top contenders for a medal, Kaushik, who had claimed a silver in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, had a relatively low profile – practically known as Worlds medallist and former Asian champion Shiva Thapa’s arch-rival.

Both fought their way to be placed among the best in the business.

“I had no pressure. The preparation was good. The support staff didn’t let the pressure affect my game,” Panghal told Sportstar.

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Panghal, who shifted from 49kg to 52kg this year to fit into the Olympic weight, worked on his power and stamina for the Worlds.

“The performance here will help in the Olympic qualification event,” said Panghal, who rated his quarterfinal bout against Filipino Paalam Carlo as the toughest.

National champion Kaushik, who jumped from 60kg to 63kg, said beating two-time Olympian Thapa was a confidence-booster for him.

“I thought if I could beat an accomplished boxer like Shiva, then I could do well here too. I coped with my weight change well because of the good preparation. The acclimatization also helped.”

Kaushik took heart from his win over Asian bronze medal winner Chinzorig Baatarsukh in the pre-quarterfinals. “This Mongolian had beaten some Indians previously; I was the first one to beat him. That gives a lot of satisfaction. I felt the pressure as the quarterfinals was the last hurdle before getting a medal. Now, I have to look at prospective opponents to prepare for the Olympic qualifier.”

Needless to say, the two will seek to earn India’s first Worlds medal other than the bronze.