Friday, September 11, 2015

Interview: Head injury prevented me from going after gold: Super heavyweight boxer Satish Kumar

He is touted as the country’s best super heavyweight boxer. One can probably say that Satish Kumar has done ‘enough’ in the last twelve months or so to give an impression that he is India’s best bet for a medal in any major international competition. The 26-year-old Bulandshahar lad had cornered a bronze medal in the +91 kg of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games and followed it with another bronze medal effort at the recent Asian Boxing Championship in Bangkok. Surprisingly, he was not selected for the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games for reasons best known to the selectors. Satish subsequently delivered a telling statement for his non-inclusion in the CWG, bagging back-to-back bronze medals (2014 Asian Games and 2015 Asian Boxing Championships). Son of a farmer, Satish, who is employed in the Army as a Naik Subedar, took to boxing quite late unlike most others. He joined the Army in general category in 2008 and first started training in boxing there a year later and made his senior nationals debut in 2011, where he won a silver medal. Satish spoke on his boxing and much more in an exclusive interview.


Q How would you sum up your bronze medal effort in the Asian Boxing Championship?

I was happy to have reached the semifinals and sealed my berth for the 2015 AIBA World Championship. It would have been even better if I had reached the final and won the gold. This bronze medal performance will surely stand me in good stead for the future.

Q What went wrong in your semifinal bout against China’s Wang Zhibao?

Obviously, he is the second seeded boxer and a tough opponent to counter. I suffered a head-on collision in the early stages and after that I really don’t know how I survived the next two rounds. My head injury affected my rhythm as I was struggling to land points scoring punches and preventing me from going all out in pursuit of the gold medal bout. I had beaten Tajikistan’s Siyovush Zukhurov in the quarterfinals via a technical knockout after my opponent received two warnings for excessive bending, besides showing an inability to deal with the ferocity of my punches. I had outpunched North Korea’s Jin Hyok, a bout where I completely dominated.

Q Talking of the AIBA World Championship, this will be the second time you are taking part.

Yeah, this will be my second World Championship. I had reached the quarterfinals of the 2013 AIBA World Championship in Baku, where I gave a walkover to Kazakshtan’s Ivan Dychko. Hope to better my performance in the 2015 edition.

Q You have played London Olympics bronze medallist Ivan Dychko of Kazakshtan three times in three major events. Besides the 2013 Asian Boxing Championship and 2013 AIBA World Championship, he beat you in the semifinals of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games where you bagged a bronze to match the effort of Paramjeet Samota at the 2010 Asiad.

He is a top boxer and I have never beaten him. I will keep working my game and hope to come out with more weapons when I meet him next time.

Q Tell us about your family?

I hail from Bulandshahar city in Uttar Pradesh. My father is a farmer and I have four brothers. My elder brother is working in the Army, while my two younger brothers are studying.

Q You are quite a late developer. Unlike boxers who take up boxing and join the Army for better training, you joined Army in general category and then gradually decided to focus on boxing.

I joined the Army in 2008 and after one year took boxing training and won a silver medal in my first Senior Nationals in Chennai in 2011. I won the gold in the 2012 Nationals in Hyderabad. The Senior Nationals were held after a gap of two years earlier this year at Nagpur, where I again won the gold.

Q Every boxer who represents the country from a particular weight category hog the limelight, but what about the second, third or fourth ranked boxers in respective weight categories. Do you think a lot needs to be done?

Absolutely! These boxers work as hard as I do and just because they are losing out on representing the country does not mean they are inferior. These boxers must be encouraged and given incentives in terms of jobs and other facilities. If these boxers are taken care of boxing will be become strong across the country.

Q The 2015 AIBA World Championship is the next big thing for Indian boxing. Who are the boxers you have to watch out for in the super heavyweight category?

There are four really solid boxers I have to watch out for in the super heavyweight category. Azerbaijan’s Magomedrasul Majidov is two-time world champion and bronze medallist at the 2012 London Olympics, Italy Roberto Cammarelle is another one – the current Olympic champion, then there is Great Britain’s Anthony Joshua, 2012 Olympics runners-up not to forget Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko – the current Asian Games gold medallist and 2013 World Championship runner-up. I will take all the positives from my Bangkok performance and look to raise the bar at the upcoming 2015 AIBA World Championship.

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