Shiva Thapa gearing up to face new challenges

Having spent a decade in top-level international boxing, Shiva Thapa understands that the challenges are always varied.

On a high: Shiva Thapa in action at the second India Open international boxing tournament at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati in 2019. The seasoned boxer gave a superb exhibition of his all-round game and mature approach while seeing off talented youngsters during the National championships at the Inspire Institute of Sports campus in Vijaynagar recently.   -  RITU RAJ KONWAR

The year 2021 has been a significant one so far for boxer Shiva Thapa, who secured his fifth consecutive Asian championships medal, a silver in 64kg, in Dubai in April and his fifth National title, in his debut in 63.5kg, in Vijaynagar, Karnataka, in September.

Only a few know that between his two memorable performances, the gritty boxer had to overcome an odd, a ‘personal problem,’ to return to training and get his career back on track.

Following a period of reassessing himself, during which he cut off from the rest of the world and did not even take phone calls, Shiva — who was the second Indian male boxer to claim a World championships medal in 2015 — seeks to bag his second Worlds medal in Belgrade and achieve a unique feat as an Indian.

READ: Youth on the right path

Even though the World championships will be a tough competition this time because of the lucrative prize money it offers, a dash of optimism is distinct in Shiva’s voice.

“Of course, another World championships medal is the next target. That would be unique. It would be great to win a medal this time since it would come in a new weight category — 63.5kg. Since many boxers would change weights following the rejig in weight categories, there would be several new faces. That is the new motivation right now,” said Shiva, who won his Worlds bronze medal in 56kg six years ago to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

For Shiva, it might be difficult to digest that he could not make it to his third straight Olympics in Tokyo (as Manish Kaushik secured the quota place in 63kg), but the 27-year-old is looking ahead to make up for the loss.

“The Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games next year and the Paris Olympics in 2024 are the events ticking in my head all the time. I don’t want to be called a third-time Olympian, rather I am keen on winning an Olympic medal. That will be very special and the ultimate thing to do.

“Five-time Asian medallist and World championships medallist are all good achievements, but being an Olympic medallist is altogether different.”

Having spent a decade in top-level international boxing, Shiva understands that the challenges are always varied. “The challenges are new and different every time. In the Asian championships, facing the taller Mongolian in the final was different. The World championships will throw different kinds of challenges,” he said.

Smooth transition: Shiva Thapa with the silver medal at the World Youth Boxing Championship in Baku in 2010. Shiva graduated from the junior to senior level with ease.   -  SANDEEP SAXENA

 

Shiva, a 2009 World junior bronze medallist and a 2010 World Youth and Youth Olympics silver medallist, who graduated from the junior to senior level with ease, enjoys the challenge he receives from up-and-coming boxers even at the domestic level.

He gave a superb exhibition of his all-round game and mature approach while seeing off talented youngsters during the National championships at the Inspire Institute of Sports campus in Vijaynagar.

READ: Drawings by boxing legend Muhammad Ali up for auction

The way he devised superb plans and executed them flawlessly to quell the challenges from some promising rivals, especially World youth medallist Ankit Narwal, Abhishek Yadav and Dalveer Singh Tomar, won him many admirers from his own camp as well as that of the opposition. His performance reminded the seasoned Shiva of his own days as a greenhorn.

“Yes, fighting with these talented boxers is a throwback to my days as a young boxer. Once upon a time, I was going through all this (giving my all to win fights). I learnt and grew with my experience,” said Shiva with a smile as he obliged every request for a selfie.

Shiva remains unaffected by his stardom even as he seeks to achieve excellence and bigger glory in a crucial phase of his brilliant career.