The world of pugilists is not always peppered with blows and knockouts. Not always do we find pugilists who are ‘confidently’ pompous and unwittingly nonchalant. There’s always a tinge of sarcasm hidden in their words. But there are one or two boxers who stand out of the herd, and India's Akhil Kumar is one of them.
Ask him about his chances at the Doha Asian Games, and he will utter words that seem to be plucked out from books. He sounds arrogant at times, but there's wisdom in what he says.
This time, too, he has an eternal quote to describe his chances at the Games: “A friend of mine told me once, never lose hope. That's precisely what I am doing. I am hoping for a grand performance in Doha. I have always held this belief: Hard work and hope for hope,” said the Commonwealth Games gold medallist a day before the 10-member boxing team's departure. “Unlike the Busan Games, hopefully this time we'll win a medal.”
The Bhiwani pugilist, who is embarking on his first Asian Games journey, is happy with his preparations. “I think the entire team has had good practice sessions,” he said. “After the Arjuna Award and the Commonwealth Games gold, there are a lot of expectations from me… There's added responsibility on my shoulders.”
With Som Bahadur Pun out at the last moment because of illness, the onus is on Akhil and V Johnson (in his second Asiad) to do well for the country.
“No Indian pugilist has ever won golds at the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games. But hopefully, now is perhaps the right time for me to change the trend,” said Akhil.
As reported earlier by Hindustan Times, the four boxers who were not cleared by the government — Sanjay Kolte, Diwakar Prasad, Dilbagh Singh and Manoj — are being flown to Doha on the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation's expense.
Jitender (51 kg), Akhil Kumar (54 kg), Jay Bhagwan (58 kg), Vijender (75 kg), Harpreet Singh (91 kg), V Johnson (91 kg); Sanjay Kolte (48 kg), Diwakar Prasad (57 kg), Manoj (64 kg) and Dilbagh Singh (69 kg)
M Venu, Foreign Coach: I Fernandes; Doctor: Nirmolak Singh.