Interview with Manoj Kumar: Vast experience will help me in the Rio Olympics
He is the most experienced Indian male boxer – yes, Manoj Kumar has a bucketful of experience – and will look to optimise that when he boxes for the country in the light welterweight category (64kg) of the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympics. The 29-year-old with a massive 11 years of international experience, will be travelling to London next week as part of the Talent Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme to fine-tune his preparations for the games after having made the Rio cut after the Baku Olympic Qualifying Event recently.
The Haryana lad, who is employed with the Indian Railways, spoke about his Olympic aspirations and much more in an exclusive interview.
Here are a few excerpts from the interview:
Q: How satisfying it is to qualify for your second consecutive Olympics?
It feels good to make the Olympic cut – we all work hard with the aspiration of representing our country in the Olympics and I consider myself fortunate to be featuring in my second Olympics.
Q: You featured in as many five bouts before you qualified for the Rio Olympics by reaching the last-four stage of the 64kg category – how would you sum up your overall experience in Baku?
I outboxed boxers from Puerto Rico, Ireland, Bulgaria and Tajikistan before I lost to Great Britain’s Pat MacCormack in the semifinals – all my bouts were hard-fought and I really had to be at my best to win all my bouts.
Q: You have been boxing in the light welterweight category (64kg) for eleven years now – how much this rich experience will help you in Rio?
Experience do matter and I need to use it to my best advantage in Rio – all I want to say is I will give my best shot and if the Almighty showers his blessings who knows I might end up with a podium finish.
Q: You lost in the second round of the 64kg at the 2012 London Olympics – having experienced the Olympic stage must be of big help to you this time around.
Four years ago, I was thrilled to bits playing in the Olympics but now the focus is not just on boxing for the country but winning a medal and making the country proud. Keeping my fingers crossed.
Q: You were not earlier part of the Government’s Target Olympic Podium (TOP) scheme but you have been inducted after qualifying for the Rio Olympics.
I’m really happy to avail the TOP scheme – my coach Rajesh Kumar is also travelling with me to London next week for a three-week training stint along with the national squad and other coaching staff.
Q: You owe a lot to your elder brother turned coach Rajesh Kumar for whatever you have achieved in boxing. Your thoughts.
Rajesh is five years elder to me and the kind of setbacks I have endured in my boxing career it would not have been possible for Rajesh – he is a pillar of strength for me – if he was not supporting me I don’t know where I would have been languishing today. He is everything for me.
Q You have said on most occasions that you always got a raw deal – your thoughts.
Many would have given up boxing if they experienced the setbacks I have come up against. My steely resolve allowed me to surmount everything and focus on boxing.
Q: You have expressed your desire to quit international boxing with an Olympic bang?
I would like to go out on a high but can’t say much about the future. For now, I want to win a medal for my country.