Satish Kumar, top, of India exchanges punches with Ricardo Brown of Jamaica during their men's super-heavy weight 91 kg preliminaries round Boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)
Satish Kumar, top, of India exchanges punches with Ricardo Brown of Jamaica during their men's super-heavy weight 91 kg preliminaries round Boxing match at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Tokyo, Japan. (AP)

Tokyo Olympics: Village celebrates super Satish Kumar win

  • Tokyo 2020: Much before Kumar became the first Indian in an Olympic super heavyweight bout his friends and fans had gathered in front of his house, many of them after praying at the village’s Baba Devi temple. Singh and his wife too had prayed there and were keeping a fast till the bout ended.
UPDATED ON JUL 29, 2021 11:50 PM IST

“Mukkebaaji” or boxing was our way of settling scores in the village, said Kiran Pal Singh only half in jest. On Thursday, it united Pachauta, a village 10 km from Bulandsahr in Uttar Pradesh. One of their own, Satish Kumar, was boxing for India in the Tokyo Olympics.

Much before Kumar became the first Indian in an Olympic super heavyweight bout his friends and fans had gathered in front of his house, many of them after praying at the village’s Baba Devi temple. Singh and his wife too had prayed there and were keeping a fast till the bout ended.

“I haven’t seen such support for my son (before). Seeing almost 600 people outside your house was amazing,” said Singh after Kumar won 4-1 against Jamaica’s Ricardo Brown to enter the quarter-finals.

Kumar said he had started cautiously but “once I took hold of the situation, I didn’t stop myself.” He said he was sure of the win after the first two rounds. “So I chose to play defensively in the third.”

Celebrations broke out after the win. The dhol, a double-sided drum, was played and people including Kumar’s family danced.

Kumar’s wife and two children watched the bout at their home in Noida. “My grandchildren congratulated me,” said Singh.

Singh said he was confident that Kumar, 32, would win the next round and get a medal (in boxing both losing semi-finalists get bronze). “Somebody said that his next rival is a big shot but for me it makes no difference as I have faith in my son’s ability. Before flying to Tokyo, he promised he would come back with a medal.”

Kumar will meet Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov, the reigning Asian and world champion, on Saturday.

Kumar missed the Rio Olympics due to injury and that, said Singh, had spurred him to aim for Tokyo. Like many Indian athletes in Tokyo, Kumar would rarely come home over the past five years, said Singh who is a farmer.

Singh said recognition didn’t come Kumar’s way when he won bronze at the 2014 Asian Games. “But things changed when he bagged silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.”

Winner of two Asian Championship bronze medals and the Arjuna award, Kumar took up boxing on joining the Army. “We, including Satish, came to know about boxing only when he joined the Army following his brother,” he said.

Kumar said he had received over 500 phone calls on Thursday. “Besides the family, the villagers too wanted to congratulate me. I took all the calls. After all they are my people,” he said.

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