National champion Ankit Khatana (75kg) and rising star Kalaivani Srinivasan (48kg) led India to six boxing gold medals as World Championships bronze medallist Manish Kaushik settled for the silver medal on the first day of the finals at the 13th South Asian Games in Nepal.
From the men, Vinod Tanwar (49kg), Sachin (56kg) and Gaurav Chauhan (91kg) were the others who finished on the top podium while Parveen (60kg) was the other woman pugilist to take the gold for India.
In the men’s 49kg final, Bhutan’s Tashi Wangdi proved no match for Tanwar, who easily cruised to a 5-0 win. Sachin was equally impressive and hardly broke a sweat against Bangladesh’s Mia Md Robin in 56kg, soaring to a win by the same scoreline.
Khatana was unstoppable and stamped his authority over Sri Lanka’s Dinesh Maduranga Don Pathirage in the middleweight summit clash on his way to a commanding 5-0 victory.
Gaurav Chauhan faced some stiff resistance from Pakistan’s Sanaullah early on in their 91kg face-off but was soon able to find his punches that helped him notch up a 4-1 win.
While his compatriots performed upto the expectations, it was Manish Kaushik’s 64kg final loss that was the biggest surprise for the entire contingent. Fresh from his World Championships bronze medal win, Kaushik was at his menacing best throughout the tournament but was outdone by Nepal’s Bhupendra Thapa, who recorded a huge 5-0 upset win.
“Today man of the match goes to Vinod Tanwar in my view, opponent was a rough puncher. He took him very easy by step back punch and side step punch and won the match by 5:0. Manish’s opponent was very rough and he received 1 or 3 clear punches. It was unfortunate but this tournament was definitely a good experience for him,” said India’s men’s boxing chief coach, CA Kuttappa.
The women, in contrast, had to fight hard for the gold. One of the most promising talents, Kalaivani showed her resilience in her 3-2 victory over Nepal’s Maharjan Lalita in 48kg. Parveen too showed her guts and gumption in a brave 3-2 triumph over Nepal’s Sunar Sangita in 60kg but 2017 Asian Championship bronze medallist Shiksha bowed out 0-5 to Minu Gurung of Nepal in 54kg.
On Tuesday, Vikas Krishan (69kg), Narender (+91kg), Sparsh (52kg), Varinder (60kg) will be aiming for the gold from the men while Pinki Rani (51kg), Sonia Lather (57kg), and Manju Bamboriya (64kg) will be hoping for a top-podium finish from the women.