Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Showing mettle, inspired by Iron Mike

Suhrid Barua Times of India, Pune March 22, 2008

Pune: He aspires to box like great Mike Tyson. And in pursuit of fulfilling that cherished dream, V. Durga Rao has surely taken a small but significant step en route to punching his way to a bronze medal in the recently-concluded International Boxing Championships in Volvograd, Russia.

The 17-year-old bantamweight (54 kg) pugilist of Army Sports Institute (ASI), Pune, overcame stiff competition from boxers of Cuba and Russia before pounding out a podium finish. The Vishakhapatnam-born boxer is undoubtedly in seventh heaven after his exploits in Russia. “I really had to sweat for it. My opponents were not prepared to give an inch. I outboxed a gritty Cuban in the first round, and that win set me up to go for the kill in the next rounds. In the end, I lost to a Russian boxer after giving him a fright in the semi-finals,” Durga, who is also a twice national sub-junior champion, told TOI even as he struggled to recall the name of his semi-final nemesis.

The effort of making the last four ensured him a bronze medal. The 17-year-old boxer, who transited from the sub-junior to junior category early this year, is more than willing to throw light on the attributes of Russian boxing. “Boxers from Cuba and Russia are tactically sound. They have this knack of boxing with gay abandon without worrying too much about the final outcome. As far as the Indian boxers are concerned, we can definitely match up to them but we do tend to press the panic button too soon,” Durga explained.

A quarter-finalist at the 2006 World sub-junior championships (Istanbul, Turkey), and at the 2007 World sub-junior championships (Baku, Azerbaijan), Durga, however, was modest in his hour of glory. “I owe my success to my coach B.B. Mohanty. ‘Mohanty Sir’ taught me what discipline is all about. He also used to stress on essaying the perfect combination of right and left punches.” The confabulation veered towards his role model Mike Tyson and his eyes light up in a flash. “I want to box like the way he (Tyson) does. He is an inspiration for me,” Durga says.