In a small village called Jind in Haryana, a nine-year-old boy would often wait for hours for his father to return home. The wait was long and agonising for Jai Bhagwan. “I used to get restless as my father used to take me to the boxing training centre on his bicycle,” is his explanation.
On Friday, after a thumping 16-0 victory over Oratile Segokgo of Botswana in the lightweight (60kg) first round of the XXX Commonwealth Boxing Championship, Bhagwan recalled the time spent in the village where he grew up and learnt the sport. “I loved boxing ever since I was a kid. My father took me for training everyday and I enjoyed those days,” said a tired Bhagwan. “And of course, I miss my mother’s chana dal.”
The 23-year-old pugilist, an Asian Championship silver-medallist and a former national champion, played an aggressive game and within three minutes of the bout was leading 6-0. “I felt really confident today,” he said. “I was aggressive and I’m happy it paid off.”
Coming from a humble background, Bhagwan felt his hard work was slowly beginning to bear fruit. His achievements fetched him a job with the Haryana Police that helps him support his family.
“I am glad I can support my family a bit. It is tough sometimes. But after Vijender’s (Singh) achievement many boys like me have got reasons to dream and think big,” said Bhagwan, who would often share the room with Vijender during training and events. At the moment, though, winning a gold at the Commonwealth Games is all that he is living for.
Meanwhile, Vijender’s 19-year-old cousin Balwinder Beniwal crashed out with a first-round defeat in the light welter weight (64kg) category. Beniwal lost to Richarno Colin of Mauritius 2-9.