Amit Panghal wins historic silver as India finish best-ever campaign at AIBA Men’s World Championships
New Delhi, September 21: Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal (52kg) had to be content with the silver medal after going down 0-5 to Uzbekistan's reigning Olympic gold medallist Shakhobidin Zoirov at the AIBA Men’s World Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia on Saturday. This is thus the first time two Indian boxers finished on the podium at a single edition of the World Championships, with bronze medallist Manish Kaushik (63kg) being the other.
This historic silver medal is also the 23-year-old Panghal’s maiden medal from this prestigious tournament.
Despite the loss, Panghal had already created history as the first Indian male boxer to reach the final of the Worlds. Previously four Indian pugilists including Vijender Singh, Vikas Krishan, Shiva Thapa and Gaurav Bidhuri have medalled here. However, none of them could secure a medal better than a bronze.
Panghal, who has been in terrific form as evidenced by his gold medals at the Asian Championships and the Asian Games, found the going tough against the determined Shakhobidin Zoirov. Panghal’s defensive approach exposed him to a few blows from his accomplished opponent.
While Panghal looked to improve his attack as the bout went on, the taller and sturdier Zoirov was overall the better boxer as he landed his first gold as well as his first-ever medal from the World Championships.
India’s laudable performance at this tournament is another validation that men’s boxing in the country has been on an upward trajectory for some time. With just one year to go for the Tokyo Olympics, such a strong show only boosts medal hopes further.
Congratulating Panghal and Kaushik, Boxing Federation of India (BFI) President Ajay Singh said, “An Indian male boxer playing the final in the World Championships is a historic moment for Indian boxing. Amit's silver and Manish's bronze confirm that Indian boxing is now a force to reckon with.
“This is a reward for the effort that BFI has put into remodelling the entire structure of the sport so that our boxers get the best of training and can confidently perform on the world stage.
“With less than a year to go for the 2020 Olympics, these performances are a major boost. BFI will ensure and encourage them in every possible way so that they can carry this form into Tokyo to bring back medals for the country.”
While a superb Men’s World Championships comes to an end for India, the focus will now shift on the women pugilists who are gearing up for the AIBA Women's World Championships, scheduled to be held in Ulan Ude, Russia from September 30 to October 14.