Boxing is fun. It’s a place where the adrenaline is always pumping, even if you aren’t in the ring. Shout till your throat aches. Jump till you drop dead. Swing, sway or dance. It’s the place to be at any Games. That was how it was when two Indians stepped into the ring on Tuesday. First it was Amandeep Singh in 49kg, then came Manoj Kumar’s turn in 64kg.
As chants of ‘India, Indeeyaaah’ rose to a deafening crescendo in the boxing arena, Manoj stepped on the gas and needed just his left to throw his opponent Daniel Lassoyo, from Sierra Leone, out of the competition 2 minutes 49 sec into the second round, when the referee stopped play.
For an orthodox boxer, the left is used as a tool to soften opponents up. Sometimes it caresses the cheeks; sometimes you land a few jabs to gauge the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, or target the body to open up the defence before unleashing the more powerful right. But if the left starts fetching points, then the boxer just needs a round or two to send his opponent off the canvas.
“We try to avoid them, but when a boxer extends a comfortable lead, he uses them,” said chief national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu after the bout. Right from the bell, Manoj did not let Lassoyo, who trains in Cuba, settle down. Within seconds, with the crowd behind him, he earned points with his left, and by the time the round ended, he had 9 points. Mid-way through the second, he was all over his opponent, connecting almost every hook and uppercut.