By B Shrikant
Mumbai, July 8 (IANS) Amit Panghal burst onto the national scene in 2017, and in just four years, the young Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) from the Indian Army has made rapid strides to be counted as the top medal contender in his category at the Tokyo Olympics.
He was rated as the No 1 boxer in men’s flyweight (53kg) category by the International Olympic Committee’s Boxing Task Force (BTC) recently. The accolade coming in just 27 days before the Tokyo Olympics is a huge morale-booster for the boxer from Haryana. It is also likely to get him a favourable draw in the 28-player competition. This is the second time he has been ranked No 1. The first time was soon after he won the Asian Games gold in 2018.
A gold-medallist at the Asian Games in 2018 in Indonesia, Panghal, the 25-year-old from Rohtak district in Haryana, is the first Indian male boxer to reach the final at the World Championships at Yekaterinburg, Russia.
Though he eventually lost to Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in the 52 kg category final and had to settle for silver, it was a big achievement for Panghal as no Indian had achieved this feat till then.
It was a shock first-round defeat at the Inter-services meet in 2017 that changed his approach towards the sport and Panghal worked harder to develop his skills, especially his ability to reach the approach of his opponent.
A regular at the Army Sports Institute in Pune, Panghal qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after he defeated Philippines’ Carlo Paalam in the 52 kg quarter-final.
He is in good form as he won gold in the Boxing World Cup in Cologne, Germany, in December 2020. He has also won the gold medal in consecutive years at the Strandzha Cup in Sofia, Bulgaria. He has been training with the team in Assisi, Italy since June 2021.
Born on 16 October 1995 in Mayna village of Rohtak district, Panghal took to boxing after being inspired by his brother, a former amateur boxer.
Panghal is a product of the Chhoturam Boxing Academy in Rohtak.
Honoured with the Arjuna award in 2018, Panghal has a cool head on stronger shoulders. He reads his opponent’s game patiently and the attacks with combinations.