Mumbai: Amit Panghal was the less fancied among pack of seven Indian men’s boxers at the Asian Games. But the light flyweight boxer from Rohtak punched above his weight to attain glory. He surprised all by out punching Rio Olympic gold medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the final to give India its only top podium finish in the boxing event.
But Panghal wasn’t surprised at all. He was expecting to meet Dusmatov in the final before the event and had made through preparations to take on the Uzbek champion boxer.
“I had lost to Uzbek boxer in the quarterfinals of the World Championships (in Hamburg) last year. It was in my mind and I wanted to avenge that loss. I was confident to reach the finals and had prepared in advance for him. My strategy worked and my dream of beating him to bag the gold got fulfilled,” Panghal said.
The Army Sports Institute, Pune boxer was too good for his opponents before facing stiff challenge from Philippines’ Carlo Paala in the semifinal but Panghal overcame a shaky start to set his foot in the final he had been long waiting for. The 22-year-old had worked hard with his coaches Santiago Nieva, CA Kuttappa at NIS Patiala and England before the quadrennial event in Jakarta.
“I had discussed with my coaches how to counter Dusmatov and we worked hard in our training sessions,” said the rookie.
After attending a felicitation ceremony in New Delhi on Tuesday, Panghal is set to visit his home where his family and friends are awaiting his golden return. “Last time I went with silver from CWG and it inspired many youngsters in my village. This time every one is more excited in my native place and I am itching to reach home,” he said.
After a well-deserved rest for around a week Panghal will get back to training with Tokyo Olympics being his next big target in a different category.
“I will start training again after 5-6 days. I will be competing now in the 52kg category (flyweight). For that I will look to gain weight and power. My target is to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics,” he said.