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Nothing feels good before a fight

other Updated: Sep 18, 2011 00:24 IST
Sandip Sikdar
Sandip Sikdar
Hindustan Times
Sandip Sikdar

The boxing ring may be a site of bravado and fearlessness, but the pugilists rarely let their guard down even in the locker room.

"Before the match, it is one hot and tense place," said Akhil Kumar, the 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, sharing his experiences.

"The boxers do not interact much as we all focus and concentrate on the match ahead. It is an extremely intense sport. Haare ya jeete, pitna to hai hi (win or lose, we have to get hit). Naseeb hi aisa hai (That is our fate).

"I have two coaches who help me before the match. One coach looks after me; brings me water, helps me warm up, does all the pep-up talk. The other one keeps a check on the bouts of the ongoing matches and lets me know the time left before my match. Those moments are really ardent."

But that is not the only thing the boxer has to worry about.

"Results ka dar bahut hota hai (I am very scared of the results). I have an uneasy feeling in my gut just before the results are announced.

"At the Olympic or world stage, the level of the players is more of less the same. We have a lot of close matches. Unless and until it is a knockout, we are never sure of a win. Even one or two points can make all the difference."

But what about interacting with other boxers in the changing room?

"As I am, now, one of the most senior guys on tour, I like to maintain some distance from the younger boys. That gap helps build respect.

"Earlier, I used to hang out with Jitender Kumar. Nowadays, due to logistical reasons we rarely participate in the same tournament."

When asked about how he unwinds before a match, he replied, "To be honest nothing feels good before the match. I warm up a lot. It helps. All the pressure and tension just vanishes. I feel quite relaxed after it."

"The pressure before the match is so much that I have to visit the toilet at least three times," said Akhil jokingly. "No, it is just that we have to drink lot of liquids and water before the match."