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No fruit punch here, he’s ready to land hard jabs

other Updated: Jan 06, 2012 00:19 IST
Saurabh Duggal

Four months is too little a time to adjust to the rigours of boxing. But this 19-year-old from Manipur — a non-entity till September last — is planning a coup of sorts at the London Games.

When the pint-sized L Devendro Singh joined the national camp, nobody took him seriously. There were bigger claimants — like the CWG Games medallist, Amandeep Singh, and former youth world champion Nanao Singh — in the ring for the World Championship berth in Baku. But the trials for the event (from Sept 22-Oct 10) changed Devendro’s fortunes.

The hard way
The Manipur boxer defeated both Amandeep and Nanao in the 49kg category to secure a place in the national squad. He astonished everyone on international debut in the senior category by making it to the quarterfinals in Baku and also securing a London berth.

“I was under tremendous pressure during the trials. Amandeep and Nanao were more experienced, but I gave it my best shot,” says Devendro, who beat Amandeep on count-back. “After that, I was very confident of earning an Olympic quota.”

The big stage
Before Baku, Devendro’s world-stage exposure was restricted to the Asian youth championships where he won a silver. “When I got the national call-up, Suranjoy was the one who motivated me and instilled self-belief. During the trials, the only thing going through my mind was, ‘there is always a first time’. This approach helped me sail through,” says Devindro, who is employed with the Indian Army.

Devindro’s Olympic preparations are in place and he is busy chalking out the final training programme with his coaches. “Next month, we are off on a foreign trip to gain exposure. Due to my limited international experience in the senior category, my thrust will be on foreign training and competitions. I am also working on my foot movement and accuracy of the punches.”