Boxing at National Games: Lovlina, Hussamuddin gallop to titles; Simranjit, Sanjeet take sweet revenge

Lovlina made her competitive debut in 75kg and used the platform, like several other pugilists, as a preparatory stage for the Asian Championships in Amman. Mohammed Hussamuddin (57kg) was in superb touch, while the experienced Shiva Thapa tasted defeat in the 67kg final.

Body blow: Mohammed Hussamuddin (right) punches Satish Kumar during a feather-weight clash at the National Games in Gandhinagar. En route to his gold medal, Hussamuddin beat National champion Rohit Mor and World youth champion Sachin Siwach Junior.

Body blow: Mohammed Hussamuddin (right) punches Satish Kumar during a feather-weight clash at the National Games in Gandhinagar. En route to his gold medal, Hussamuddin beat National champion Rohit Mor and World youth champion Sachin Siwach Junior. | Photo Credit: V. V. Krishnan

Lovlina made her competitive debut in 75kg and used the platform, like several other pugilists, as a preparatory stage for the Asian Championships in Amman. Mohammed Hussamuddin (57kg) was in superb touch, while the experienced Shiva Thapa tasted defeat in the 67kg final.

Thanks to the presence of Olympic and World Championship medallists, boxing was one of the most star-studded disciplines at the 36th National Games in Gandhinagar.

Worlds silver medallist Amit Panghal, world champion Nikhat Zareen, and two-time World youth champion Nitu Ghanghas may have decided to skip the National Games, but Tokyo Olympic bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain’s last-minute entry after being ruled out due to a nose injury came as a big boost to the competition.

Lovlina made her competitive debut in 75kg and used the platform, like several other pugilists, as a preparatory stage for the Asian Championships in Amman. She got an easy draw before facing Worlds silver medallist Saweety Bora (Bora, earlier a boxer in the 81kg category, had decided to participate in the 75kg category this time) in the summit clash. She won 5-0.

This was was Lovlina’s first step in her journey for the Paris Olympics. “This will help me in my preparation for the Asian Championships. I hope to add some power to my punches by next year’s Asian Games (an Olympic qualification event),” said Lovlina.

The rivalry between Worlds bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur and Asian and Commonwealth Games medallist Jaismine Lamboria extended in the 60kg summit clash, which was another fascinating contest. After losing to the youngster twice, Olympian Simranjit bounced back in the selection trials for the Asian Championships and then at the National Games.

Lovlina Borgohain in action during the 75kg final against Saweety Bora. Lovlina won 5-0.

Lovlina Borgohain in action during the 75kg final against Saweety Bora. Lovlina won 5-0. | Photo Credit: V. V. Krishnan

Sangwan pips Thapa

Worlds and Asian championships medallist Shiva Thapa, gunning for his sixth Asian medal, jumped from his usual 63.5kg to 67kg. He met his match in National champion Akash Sangwan as the southpaw beat the experienced Thapa 3-2 in a fiercely fought semifinal bout. “It’s always helpful to fight with boxers from heavier weights. When I was young, I used to fight with my elder brother and it helped me,” said Thapa.

Two-time Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Muhammad Hussamuddin (57kg) looked in superb touch and overcame two fine opponents — National champion Rohit Mor and World youth champion Sachin Siwach Junior — to take the gold. Former World youth champion Ankushita Boro (66kg) impressed with her confident run to the title, while her Assam Statemate and Worlds bronze medallist Jamuna Boro (57kg) overcame a bout of fever to settle for the bronze.

Sanjeet had lost to Naveen Kumar in the Asian Championships trials after his disheartening performance in the Commonwealth Games. Revenge was sweet for Asian champion as he outlasted Naveen in a bloodied 92kg title clash.

New talents such as Ankit Sharma (51kg), Minakshi (52kg), Poonam (57kg) and Nikhil Dubey (75kg) performed commendably well against quality opponents. Dubey conquered the grief of his coach’s death to emerge as the champion.

Following the National Games and Asian Championships in Amman, the boxers will be tested again at the National Championships this year. Even though it will be a taxing affair for some, especially those who are all set to compete in as many as five competitions in the last half of the calendar, the busy season will toughen them up for a rigorous schedule in the run-up to Paris 2024.

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