Teen sensation Shiva Thapa (56kg) reaffirmed his status as the rising star of Indian boxing as he became the youngest pugilist from the country to clinch a gold medal at the Asian Championships in Amman, Jordan on Monday.
India, suspended internationally for nearly a year now due to administrative wrangling in the federation, rounded off the campaign with a gold, two silver and a bronze while fighting under the International Boxing Association’s flag.
The silver medals came through L Devendro Singh (49kg) and Mandeep Jangra (69kg), while the bronze was bagged by Manoj Kumar (64kg).
The 19-year-old from Assam, defeated home favourite Obada Alkabeh on a split decision of 2-1 after fighting out a tactically superior bout.
The nimble-footed boxer, who made his Olympic debut in London last year, thus followed Suranjoy Singh (2009) and Rajkumar Sangwan (1994) into the history books as a rare Indian gold-medallist at the premier continental event.
“Shiva fought an excellent bout. He applied his brain and dominated all three rounds. The decision may have been split but he was clearly the better boxer among the two,” national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu told PTI from Amman.
But it was disappointment for another rising star L Devendro Singh (49kg), who went down fighting to Kazakhstan’s Temertas Zhussupov, the Strandja Memorial Tournament winner from Kazakhstan.
Partisan crowd helped me: Thapa
New Delhi: The last time he competed at theAsian Championships, Shiva Thapa had to retire hurt but three years later, the teen sensation has more than made up for that by becoming the youngest Indian boxer to win gold at the event defeating a local lad in front of a hugely partisan crowd.
“The hurt is over. I was carrying it with me for a long time. My shoulder gave way in the last Asian Championship in Korea in 2011 but everything went just perfectly this time,” the 19-year-old said from Jordan’s capital city Amman where the event concluded today with India managing a gold, two silver and a bronze medal.
The Assam-lad, who last year became the youngest Indian to qualify for the Olympics, put up a commanding performance to beat home favourite Obada Alkabeh on a split decision of 2-1.
“I had to shut my mind to the noise outside. Being the local boy, he was favourite and everybody was rooting for him.
I had to stay focused and not get distracted,” he explained.
“It was a good fight and I enjoyed because it’s fun to fight in front of a partisan crowd. The kind that motivates you to fight even harder,” he added.
The lone disappointment for him was not getting to hear the national anthem while at the podium to receive his medal because of India’s international suspension. “It was a bit strange but that’s how it is. It doesn’t matter though because at heart we know who we are and can be proud of it,” he said.
The youngest Olympic qualifier, the youngest Asian Championships gold-medallist but Shiva does not feel modest. “I wanted all this from the age I started boxing, which is 9. I have worked damn hard for these results and I am not going to be modest and say that I did not expect this,” he said.