Jai Bhagwan's life has thrown up so many surprises that he has stopped reacting to them. The face is expressionless and doesn't flinch even when a blow is landed.
On Sunday, when he beat Josh Taylor of Scotland in the quarterfinals, Jai Bhagwan surprised himself, as he never thought he would step into the ring and compete at the XXX Commonwealth Boxing Championships. He almost gave up the sport in 2007 when he ran away from the national camp in Patiala. Again, he was dropped for the Olympic qualifier in February 2008 and missed the flight to the Beijing Olympics.
But one instance — Vijender Singh's bronze in the Olympics — changed his life again. It was a happening that inspired him to don the boxing gloves again.
"Zindagi aisi hi hai. Kabhi hasati hai, kabhi rulati hai, (Life's like this. Sometimes it makes you cry and sometimes makes you laugh)," he said after the bout. "Ab to kuch karke hi dum loonga (I won't stop till I achieve something)."
Now, he is driven by one ambition - to win the Commonwealth Games gold in October. "When I left the sport, I thought there was nothing left for me in it," he said. "But Vijender's bronze turned it around for me. I might have become a better boxer had I had continued with the game. At the same time, since I have not done much for my country, so the hunger for victory has become my strength."
His best performance in the Commonwealth Championships has been a bronze finish. Here, he has already assured himself of a bronze. "But I want to do better," he said.
Another Indian, Amandeep Singh stormed into the semis with an impressive 9-1 win over Tanzania's Rajabu O Mbwana in 51kg category. On the other hand, Manpreet lost to Scot Stephen Simmons in 91kg.