Silver in bag, Santhosh looks at bigger targets
S Santhosh Singh won India's first-ever silver at the World Junior Boxing Championships at Agadir in Morocco, writes Indraneel Das.india Updated: Sep 20, 2006 02:16 IST
S Santhosh Singh swears by Mike Tyson, likes to throw a left hook at his opponents and has watched Dingko Singh's gold-winning bout at the Asian Games in Bangkok.
"No, not live," he explains with a childlike chuckle. "I was just nine at that time. He is still a hero in Manipur, and I watched the recording of that bout."
Though his humility is evident from his bearing and tone, Santhosh is aware that he himself has become part of Indian's boxing history. He won India's first-ever silver at the World Junior Boxing Championships at Agadir in Morocco on Sunday, going down to Moroccan Ouatini Nehdi 23-39 in the final.
It was not a very smooth ride, though. Before embarking on his first mission abroad, Santhosh had to overcome odds from unexpected quarters - intimidation from coaches as well as a tough training regimen.
"I never believed I would ever go to the World Championships until I boarded the flight," recollects the 17-year-old grimly. "My coaches in the camp would tell me, rather rudely, that I am not fit to travel with the Indian team, that I would be ousted in the first round itself."
"I was motivated and wanted to show everyone that I can box at the world stage," he adds.
Another impediment on his way to silver was the fact that he never fought in the 54kg category before - he is primarily a flyweight (48kg). "So I had to put on weight and adjust, which is not easy," says Santhosh.
Having overcome the difficulties, he is happy with his performance and is looking forward to the Asian Junior Championships in Goa next month. "At least now I know what it takes to be a champion."
Santhosh was fortunate to have a boxing background as he picked up the tricks of the trade from his brother, S Suresh Singh, who represented India at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
"He is my idol," says Santhosh of his brother, also a southpaw. "Though we don't get to meet often, I have grown up hearing about his exploits in the ring. So it was easy for me to select boxing as a profession."
During his formative years, Santhosh trained with Narjeet Singh in Imphal in 2000 before moving to the famed Ibomcha Singh's nursery of boxers. Now he trains at the Army Sports Institute in Pune.
Santhosh's silver adds to a creditable year for Indian boxing: We already had five medals at the Commonwealth Games and a gold at the World Cadet Championships.
Perhaps there is a silver lining to the clouds of gloom Santhosh grew under, after all.