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Punch your way to a gold medal

entertainment Updated: May 11, 2011 15:24 IST
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Roshmila Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

Shiva Thapa recently grabbed headlines by beating World No. 2 and World Amateur Boxing Champion Delakliev Detelin of Bulgaria to win gold at the Belgrade Winner Tournament in the 56 kg Bantamweight category. The 17-year-old had earlier won silver at the World Junior Championship, the Youth Olymipcs and the National Games and is being touted as the new Vijender Singh of Indian boxing.

However, Shiva surprises everyone by admitting that he was an avid soccer fan and only moved to boxing at the age of nine, inspired by his idol Mike Tyson and elder brother Gobind, a state-level boxer in Assam. His father, Padam Thapa, a karate instructor in Guwahati, was his first coach. “He’d push me even when I was exhausted. It was hard to concentrate on my studies after hours of morning training. Sometimes I’d fall asleep in class,” he admits sheepishly. “There was little awareness about boxing in Assam and the workload of studies was huge. My father and I literally punched my way through school.”

The sport requires plenty of technical equipment, and since infrastructure was a problem in the North-Eastern state, Shiva was forced to shift base to the Army Sports Institute in Pune. With the Olympic Gold Quest identifying him as part of their Vision 2016 initiative, the problem of funds that had clouded the childhood of the youngest of six siblings has also been resolved. Shiva lived up to his initial promise by winning gold in his first senior international tournament. “I wasn’t scared when facing the World Champion,” he asserts. “My passion for the sport and the support of my family, teachers, IBF and Olympics Gold Quest helped me on my way to gold, like Mike did so many times.”

Training day
6:30 am -8:30 am: Physical training, followed by breakfast
8.30 am-11.30 am: Rest and relaxation
11.30 am: Individual training with my coach where I work on punching bag and technical training
4 pm- 6:30 pm: Fights, 6 – 7 rounds instead of a usual 4 rounds.

Boxing tips
Stamina is import. You can’t droop till the last round is over, so hand and shoulder strength is vital. You can work on it through abdominal exercises like push-ups and chin-ups.

You have to maintain a constant weight throughout your career. We eat everything on normal days but as a tournament comes close, we avoid oily and fatty food and turn to greens.