Twenty-two-year-old boxer Amit Panghal on Saturday came out with one of the best performances of his career so far as he stunned the reigning Olympic Champion to clinch the prestigious gold at the Asian Games 2018 being held in Indonesia.
Amit defeated Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov in Men’s Boxing Men’s Light Fly (49kg) final and won what was gold number 14 for India at the 18th edition of the Asian Games.
In a tough final bout, the 22-year-old Indian boxer didn’t get bogged down and kept landing his punches even as Dusmatov tried to overpower him and eventually won the match 3-2. Amit thus took a sweet revenge against Dusmatov, who had beaten him in a split verdict in last year’s world championships.
In the first round, the bout was evenly fought as Amit kept his distance against the Uzbek and made some good punches. In the second round, Panghal was quite sharp and seemed to hold his own against the reigning Olympic champion. In the third and final round, Dusmatov wasn’t able to land any big blows while Panghal was able to hit a couple and eventually went on to win the historic gold.
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The 22-year-old Indian Armyman is a son of a poor farmer from Maina village in Haryana’s Rohtak district. Speaking to TOI, Amit’s elder brother Ajay Panghal revealed how he had to give up his boxing dreams because of the poor financial condition of the family.
“Till 2011, our financial condition was very bad. The yield from our land wasn’t great. The earning was just enough to feed the family. I was also into boxing and was training under coach Anil Dhankar so that I could become an international boxer. But our family situation meant I had to quit boxing. I joined the Indian Army in 2011 at the rank of a Naib so there was a steady flow of income. But I made sure Amit didn’t quit boxing because I knew he had the potential to reach the top,” Ajay told TOI.
Amit is a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and is ranked as Naib Subedar with the Indian Army. When he started boxing in 2006, the financial condition of his family was not very good. Amit’s father Vijender Singh owns just one acre of land where he tills wheat and millet.
However, such tough conditions couldn’t deter Amit and he continued practising the sport, even with bare hands for more than six months during the time when his boxing gloves were in a tattered condition and he didn’t have money to buy new ones.
“There was a time when Amit didn’t have boxing gloves for more than a six-month period. His old gloves were in tatters and we didn’t have the money to buy new ones, which would have cost nearly Rs 3,000. Such was his dedication that he practised with his bare hands, but didn’t give up,” remembered Ajay.
The gold medal win at the Asian Games marks the highest point in the 22-year-old’s meteoric rise to the top, starting with an Asian Championships bronze last year. A world quarter-finalist, he claimed a silver in the Commonwealth Games. Earlier this year, he also won gold medals at the inaugural India Open and the prestigious Strandja memorial in Bulgaria.