For a lad hailing from Mayna village in Rohtak, Haryana, Amit Panghal’s story is not any different from the hundreds of other Indian athletes here who come from impoverished backgrounds and make sports the ladder to a better life.
Shared News | Updated: Sep 01, 2018 23:37 IST
India’s Amit Panghal (in blue) in a match against Uzbekistan’s Hasanboy Dusmatov during the Men’s light fly (46-49kg) boxing final bout at the 18th Asian Games 2018.(PTI)
With the arc-lights firmly on him on Saturday, Amit Phangal looked every bit a shy boy, who would be more comfortable enjoying a bout in the ring than facing the hundreds of admirers.
No sooner had he come out of the ring after a historic triumph over Rio Olympic Games gold-medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov on Saturday, his admirers, who had come all the way to the Jakarta Expo Centre – a good 50km away from the city centre -mobbed him, holding him back till each one of them had a good ‘selfie session’.
For a lad hailing from Mayna village in Rohtak, Haryana, Amit’s story is not any different from the hundreds of other Indian athletes here who come from impoverished backgrounds and make sports the ladder to a better life.
“Amit is from a very poor family. They don’t have much land, may be a couple of bighas. And their livelihood depends on the few cows and buffaloes they own,” said one of his friends, who flew to Jakarta two days back and had to postpone his flight back as Amit had reached the final.
“Now, at least the gold will ensure that his family leads a comfortable life,” said his friend, not wishing to be named.
On Saturday, the 23-year-old seemed lost in the excitement around him. “Aaj hausle buland the, toh kar diya. (The morale was high today, so I beat the Uzbek opponent),” Amit said stoically even as officials of the Indian Olympic Association and the boxing federation basked in the borrowed glory.
“Since last night, I have been telling myself, haar ka badla jeet se lenge (I will avenge my defeat by beating the Uzbek rival),” said Amit, who has lost to Dusmatov on two previous occasions.
And his foreign coach, Santiago Nieva’s advice came in handy against the Uzbek. “The coach asked me to get him on the counter attack. The training in England and the camp in India helped. I had sparred with quite a few south-paw boxers in England as well as in India and it all came in handy today,” added Amit.
Perhaps, the expectations from his family too had a role to play in the victory today. “I had to win it for my family, especially my brother, who wanted to accompany me to Jakarta but couldn’t because of the resources,” said Amit, a Subedar in the army who had to take leave to compete at the Games.
So, is winning the 2020 Tokyo Olympic gold next on his mind, “Koshish karenge (will try my best),” he concluded.