By Aakash Kumar
New Delhi, Dec 18 (IANS) Amit Panghal, who won the historic silver medal at the World Championships, believes the performance of the Indian boxers has improved by leaps and bounds in the recent years, adding that at least two gold medals can be expected from them during next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
India have till now won only two bronze medals in boxing in all the editions of the Olympic Games they have participated in. Vijender Singh had won the bronze medal in middleweight category in Beijing in 2008 while MC Mary Kom had won the bronze medal in the flyweight category in London Games in 2012.
“Our performance in boxing in the recent times has improved by leaps and bounds. We have won many gold medals, whether it be at the Commonwealth Games or Asian Championships or World Championships,” Panghal told IANS.
“We will go into the Tokyo Olympics with an aim to win at least two gold medals. We can win more but at least two gold medals can be expected from Indian boxers at the Tokyo Olympics,” he added.
Talking about his own preparations for the prestigious quadrennial event, the 24-year-old said that right now, his main focus is to prepare for the Asian Olympic qualifier to be held in Wuhan, China, in February and bag a quota for the Tokyo Games.
“I am fully prepared for the Tokyo Olympics. First, in February, we have the Olympic Qualifiers and my aim is to give my best there and qualify for the Olympics,” he said.
“Like every other player, my aim is to represent India at the Olympics and win a medal.”
The World Championships silver medallist also expressed his opinion on the ongoing row regarding women’s trials between Nikhat Zareen and Mary Kom. “Mary Kom is a star in Indian boxing. According to me, it doesn’t matter for Mary Kom if there are trials or not because she doesn’t need to prove she is the best as she has already proved that. But, even if trials do take place, I don’t think so that Mary Kom should be worried about anything as she can handle those things quite easily,” he added.
Panghal, who in September, became the first Indian male boxer to win a silver at the World Championships, is currently part of the Gujarat Giants team participating in the inaugural edition of the Big Bout Indian Boxing League.
“This league will benefit all the boxers taking part in the competition. Each boxer will face a different boxer and thus will gain lots of experience. Especially, the young boxers will benefit from this league as they will get to play against senior boxers and learn from them,” Panghal said while speaking about the Indian Boxing League.
Gujarat Giants will be facing Bombay Bullets in the semi-finals and Panghal is confident that his team would win the last-four clash and would further go on to lift the title.
“Our preparations for the semi-finals are on track and we are confident of winning the Indian Boxing League.”
Panghal, who is currently at the number one spot in world rankings in the 51-kg flyweight category, is part of Adani’s Garv Hai initiative where they are supporting 20 individuals in senior and youth categories.
“I am part of Adani’s Garv Hai initiative and they are doing a lot for the athletes in their preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. Every athlete needs financial assistance and Adani group is providing that. So, I am thrilled to be a part of this initiative,” said Panghal.
The long-term incubation programme is aimed at grooming three sets of athletes, for 2020 Tokyo Olympics, 2022 Asian and Commonwealth Games probables and junior athletes for future.