India will be sending a strong boxing contingent to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and multiple medals are expected as India looks to amass its best-ever medals haul. With the likes of M.C. Mary Kom, Amit Panghal, Pooja Rani and Lovlina Borgohain all expected to bag medals, while Vikas Krishan and Satish Kumar can be the dark horses to watch out for.
With less than a month remaining, let’s look at nine Indian boxers and how they have fared over the years and their qualification.
Vikas Krishan Yadav (Men’s, 69kg)
The 29-year-old, Vikas Krishan Yadav, will be taking part in his third Olympic Games. After the rude awakening of London 2012 where after winning his pre-quarterfinal 13:11 against Errol Spence Jr. of the USA the decision was overturned by AIBA on a protest from the Americans, Vikas went on to win a bronze medal in the 2014 Asian Games. While his journey in Rio 2016 only lasted till the quarter-final stages, he bounced back in 2018 with a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games and another bronze in the Asian Games. Vikas beat Japan’s Sewon Okazawa, world number 6 and the third seed in the 69kg category, to book his Tokyo Olympics ticket. Vikas has had a major transformation in his technique since his silver medal in the 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic qualification and has never looked better in his decade-long boxing career. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics is the best opportunity for Vikas to win that elusive Olympic medal.
Lovlina Borgohain (Women’s, 69kg)
The 23-year-old’s biggest break came when she was selected to participate in the 2018 Commonwealth Games. However, her announcement was the subject of controversy after it was found that she had not received any official intimation about her selection. At the Games, she lost to Sandy Ryan of the United Kingdom in the quarterfinals, who went on to win the gold medal. Since then, Lovlina has gone on to win the bronze medal in 2018 as well as the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships. She secured her Olympic qualification after winning the bronze medal in the 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament. With that, she became the first woman from Assam to qualify for the Olympics. The 23-year-old is currently ranked number three in the world in the 69kg welterweight category and with a kind draw can easily bag a medal for India.
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Ashish Kumar (Men’s, 75kg)
Ashish Kumar broke into the national scene when he grabbed his first senior national gold medal at the 35th National Games in Kerala. In 2018, Ashish competed in his debut international event at the India Open International Boxing and reached the quarterfinals there. In 2019, he won his first international gold medal in the Middleweight category while representing India at the Thailand Open, earning him a berth at the 2019 World Boxing Championships. But his world championship debut didn’t go to plan as he was knocked out in the initial stages of the tournament. Ashish qualified for his debut Olympics at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after he reached the semifinals of the 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament held in Amman, Jordan.
Pooja Rani (Women’s, 75kg)
Pooja Rani was the lone woman boxer to win gold at the 2021 Asian Championships and India’s best bet in the women’s circuit for an Olympic medal. The 30-year-old boxer won her first International event by winning the 2019 Asian Championships in Bangkok, while she repeated the same feat in the 2021 Asian Championships but this time in the Middleweight category. After failing to qualify for the 2016 Rio Games when she lost in the second round of the Women’s World Boxing Championships in 2016. In 2020, Pooja became the first Indian to qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics. The 30-year-old is currently ranked number eight in the world and has been in good form in the lead up to the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Satish Kumar (Men’s, 91kg)
After a decade of toil and near misses, Satish Kumar qualified for Tokyo 2020 to become India’s first super heavyweight boxer at the Olympics. Since starting his career back in 2010, Satish has five national titles under his belt. He won a bronze medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon and a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia. The 30-year-old has also won two bronze medals at the Asian Championships (2015 and 2019), while he booked his place for his maiden Olympics by making the semifinals of the 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament. The 30-year-old has been India’s go-to man in the category, representing the country exclusively for over a decade now. Satish has worked hard on his game over the last couple of years and has reaped rewards from it by securing his maiden Olympics qualification.
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M.C. Mary Kom (Women’s, 51kg)
M.C. Mary Kom, the legendary boxer, has won every title there is to be won by a female boxer. Nicknamed Magnificent Mary, she is the only female to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship six times and the only boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships. She became the first Indian female boxer to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics and won a bronze medal. Then in 2014, she became the first Indian woman to win gold at the Asian Games and again won gold, this time during the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The veteran is still going strong, currently ranked number 3 in the Women’s 51kg category, and with the 2020 Tokyo Olympics being her swansong, she would like to end her glittering career with another Olympic medal to her name.
Amit Panghal (Men’s, 52kg)
Amit Panghal won a gold medal in his debut appearance at the National Boxing Championships in 2017. He won the bronze medal in the light flyweight category of the 2017 Asian Amateur Boxing Championships, and qualified for the AIBA World Boxing Championships where he was beaten by Hasanboy Dusmatov in the quarterfinals. Since then, Amit has won a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and followed it up with a gold medal in the 2018 Asian Games. In 2019, he finished runners-up to Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov in the AIBA World Championships but got one better at the 2019 Asian Championships by winning the gold medal. Amit qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after he defeated Philippines’ Carlo Paalam in the 52kg quarterfinals. The 25-year-old is currently ranked world number one and is the favourite to bag gold in the 52kg category.
Manish Kaushik (Men’s, 63kg)
Manish Kaushik shot to fame when he defeated defending champion Shiva Thapa to become the National champion for the first time in 2017. After succeeding in entering the Indian army in 2016 with his boxing credentials, Kaushik’s interest in boxing quickly grew from an interest and passion to a career choice. Manish won the silver medal in the Kazakhstan International Boxing Tournament in 2017 and then a gold in the Asian Game Test Event in Indonesia in 2018. Manish exceeded expectations in the 2018 Commonwealth Games and became a silver medalist after losing to Harry Garside of Australia. The 25-year-old has recently won a gold medal at the 2021 BOXAM International Boxing Tournament and is currently ranked number six in the world. Taking his form into consideration, India can be hopeful of a medal from the 25-year-old.
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Simranjit Kaur (Women’s, 60kg)
The 25-year-old broke into the scene when she won a bronze medal at the 16th Senior (Elite) National Championship in 2015. After a couple of years of toil and near misses, Kaur won her first international gold medal at the Ahmet Comert International Boxing Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey in 2018. Simranjit was part of the 10-man Indian squad at the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, held at New Delhi, and went on to win the bronze medal in the light welterweight category for India. Kaur won a silver medal, this time at the 2019 Asian Championships and another bronze in the 2021 Asian Championships held in Dubai. Kaur won the silver medal in the women’s light welterweight category at the Asian boxing qualifiers in Amman, Jordan, to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics. The 25-year-old is currently ranked world number six in her category and has a great shot at finishing in the podium places.