Boxer Vishwanath fulfils father’s dream with world youth title
The Chennai boxer beat Philippines’ Ronel Suyom to win the 48kg class at the Youth World Championships
When Vishwanath Suresh outpunched Ronel Suyom of The Philippines at the Youth World Championships in the 48kg final last week, he not only won the title but also fulfilled his father's dream to become a world champion.
Suresh was a promising boxer himself and won a few state-level championships, but didn't have the means to pursue his passion further. The budding career thus cut short, Suresh took up tailoring to stitch together his life.
"It was my father’s dream to become a world champion, but he could never pursue it. When I started boxing, his dream became my dream, and I am happy I have fulfilled it for him," Vishwanath, 18, said from La Nucia, Spain after the victory.
Hailing from Chennai, Vishwanath was introduced to boxing aged 12 by Suresh. With finding a good trainer always a challenge in Chennai and paying for one beyond Suresh's meagre means, his father became Vishwanath's first coach.
"My dad taught me everything he knew. He got me into the sport and made me fall in love with it. I liked cricket to begin with, but boxing soon took over. There are no boxing academies of note in Chennai and getting proper guidance at that age was crucial," Vishwanath said.
After a few failed trials in Bengaluru, Vishwanath's ambition got a boost towards the end of 2018 when he was selected by the Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune in an open trial.
"That was the turning point. I got quality coaching and guidance and made it to the Services team. The coaches there have given me a lot of belief."
Then, there’s a certain Floyd Mayweather Jr to look up to. Vishwanath regularly watches YouTube videos of the US boxing great’s bouts for inspiration. “I am a big Mayweather fan. To remain unbeaten across 50 bouts is a testament to his adaptability and skills,” he said.
Earlier this year, Vishwanath won the Asian Youth Championships in Amman and success at the world event establishes his calibre in the youth category.
"He is now the Asian as well as world champion, which means he has real quality,” said coach Vijay Kumar Sharma, who travelled with the team.
“His biggest strength is his intelligence and ring awareness. He is quick to judge the strengths and weaknesses of opponents and is able to alter his game plan on the go. It's a rare quality for a boy of his age," Sharma said.
Vishwanath showed ring craft in his very first bout, against Ireland's Joyce Patsy. "He was taller and stronger, but he altered tactics by moving in and out. That was quite impressive. His next opponent was of his height, so he attacked him differently. He knows when to use combination punches and when to defend," Sharma said.
This is Vishwanath’s last year in the youth category. The step-up to the seniors means he will have to compete with technically and physically superior opponents.
The coach believes Vishwanathan will have to work to build the power to challenge seniors. The boxer is banking on something more abstract. “I have the fire,” he said. “That is all you need to succeed in life.”