Sumit Sangwan is prodigiously talented. The 22-year-old Haryana boxer – supported by Olympic Gold Quest – first hogged the headlines when he won the light heavyweight (81kg) gold in the 34th National Games in Jharkhand in 2011, before reinforcing his credentials winning the 2012 Asian Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in Astana and sealing his Olympic berth.
A right thumb injury kept him on the sidelines for more than a year, which effectively meant that he missed a slew of tournaments during this period. The ONGC employee won the gold in the 2015 Senior Nationals in Nagpur and was named the best boxer of the tournament. Sumit, who is currently going through a rehab programme in Bengaluru, spoke about his Olympic aspirations and much more in an exclusive interview.Excerpts:Q You are considered the country’s number one light heavyweight (81kg) boxer but you have been battling with a prolonged injury that has put you out of competitive action for more than a year now. Your thoughts.I sustained a right thumb injury during the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where I lost in the quarterfinals to eventual gold medallist David Nyika of New Zealand. I dislocated my right thumb and was out of competitive action for more than a year. I’m currently doing my rehab in Bengaluru and hope to be in the ring soon.Q How frustrating it is to miss tournaments on account of injuries? It is indeed frustrating to give tournaments a miss on injury grounds. My right thumb injury has turned out be a prolonged one as I missed so many big tournaments like the 2014 Asian Games, 2015 Asian Championship and 2015 AIBA World Championship. As I have said, I have hit the rehab program and hope to play in the upcoming Asian Olympic qualifiers so that I can play in my second Olympics in Rio.Q People still talk about your 2012 London Olympics first round loss to Brazil’s Yamaguchi Falcão Florentino – a bout which is still considered highly controversial as the Indian contingent protested against that loss and was rejected by the jury that reviewed the bout.As a boxer you know when it’s not your day when you lose badly. Similarly, you also know whether you have done enough to win a bout. On that day in London, I just felt that I had done enough to beat my Brazilian opponent. I was shocked by the outcome of the bout.Q Dinesh Kumar has been dominating the light heavyweight (81 kg) until you outboxed him in the selection trials and later won the gold medal at the 2012 Asian Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament in Astana, Kazakhstan and sealed your Olympic berth.The 2012 Asian Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament will always have special memories for me as it was my first major senior international tournament. I had beaten opponents from Vietnam, Korea, Jordan and Tajikistan to corner glory. I knew it was my best chance to represent the country in the Olympics and I played with a free mind though I admit I was feeling the pressure.Q You made your debut in the 2013 AIBA World Championship in Almaty and attained a quarterfinal finish losing to Kazakhstan’s Adilbek- the reigning Olympic silver medallist – who went to win the silver.The AIBA World Championship was a great experience for me – I defeated opponents from Moldova and Belarus before I lost to Adilbek.
Q What are your strengths as a boxer and improvement areas that need more focus?
I think my height, reach and speed are my key strengths. There is always room for improvement and I need to work more on my footwork.Q Indian boxing has been in doldrums with the federation provisionally suspended by AIBA with domestic boxing activities coming to a standstill. What’s your take?Boxing has suffered a lot in last few years. I feel for the youngsters who work hard to become a boxer and make a future out of it, but with no national level tournaments happening, there is uncertainty all around. Where do these youngsters go to prove their worth? It’s sad to see such a situation.Q Vijender turned pro earlier this year. Do you desire to turn pro in future? At the moment, I’m happy playing amateur boxing and would like to win medals in all major events. As for turning pro, I’m not thinking about it now.Published 05 Nov 2015, 12:31 IST