Indian international Shiva Thapa became the youngest Indian boxer ever to qualify for the Olympics at the tender age of just 18 years. 4 years down the line, having accrued a lot more maturity and medals, Shiva is one of the best India’s medal prospects at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Since fighting his first bout in 2005 to being 3rd in the world rankings in the Bantamweight category, it has been an exhilarating journey for the 22-year old boxer.
Here is the compilation of 10 things that will help you to know him better:
1. Shiva Thapa was born on 8th December, 1993 to Nepali-origin, Mr.Padam Thapa, who is a karate instructor by trade. He was the youngest of six siblings to be born in a hostile Birubari Bazaar neighbourhood, the kind where battles between local gangs lead to nasty fights among them.
2. His father, Padam, was often involved in gang fights against the Kala Pahad gang members which prompted him and his friends to call a karate instructor from Manipur to move to Birubari Bazaar. The instructor was asked to start a small academy which taught Padam and his friends the art of karate and later on went on to serve the youth of the region.
3. Padam, who himself is an Assam-state level medal winning boxer, always wanted his sons to take up a sport and represent the Tricolour at the Olympics. When Padam came to know that karate is not a recognised sport in the Olympics, he told his sons to switch to boxing in order to get a chance of representing their nation at the Olympics.
I am not sure if they knew what the Olympic Games were about but they chased my dream: Padam Thapa
4. From their early days, Shiva and his elder brother Gobind used to follow their father’s schedule, which started as early as 3 am with a 2-hour homework session followed by a boxing training session at the Ulubari Boxing Club till 8 am, after which the kids used to attend school. The whole curriculum gave them just 5 hours of sleeping time, for which the kids never used to complain.
5. Shiva’s first chance to showcase his abilities came in the year 2005 at the sub-junior National Boxing Championships held at Noida where he was about to fight in the 36 kg category. However, a misinformed official told him that there was no such category and he would have to compete in the 38 kg category if he wanted to fight. Padam made Shiva drink a couple of litres of water to ensure he makes the cut for the heavier 38 kg weigh-in.
Shiva took the chance with both hands and went on to defeat the Services champion on his way to his first national Gold medal, leaving the officials spellbounded with his blistering performances in the ring.
6. In 2008, Shiva participated in the Children of Asia International Sports Games held in Yakutsk (Russia) and managed to clinch the Bronze medal, his first of many to come in the coming years.
By the start of 2009, Shiva had already made his name in the Boxing world and subsequently was chosen to represent India in the 52-kg category at the Junior World Boxing Championships in Armenia. The Guwahati-based boxer didn’t disappoint the selectors and returned with a Bronze to his name.
7. Shiva went on to win the Gold medal at the 2012 Asian Olympic Qualifiers held in Astana, Kazakhstan and, thus, became the youngest Indian boxer to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics. However, unfortunately, then 18-year old Shiva lost to Mexico's Oscar Valdez Fierro in the (56 kg) Bantamweight category. Shiva was subsequently rewarded for his heroics by the Assam State government and later on by the government of Sikkim.
8. In 2013, Shiva went on to become the youngest Indian ever and 3rd Indian overall to win a Gold at the Asian Confederation Boxing Championship, Amman, Jordan. In the same year, Shiva became the only Indian to sign with a foreign franchise USA team in the World Series Boxing (WSB).
9. The 22-year-old had missed a qualification chance during last year’s World Championships when he lost in the Olympic quota box-off after finishing third. But, his exploits made him only the third Indian male boxer to win a medal at the World Championships. In 2016, Shiva clinched Gold at the recently concluded South Asian Games in front of his home crowd.
10. Shiva is well supported by the Olympic Gold Quest – an organisation which strives to compliment the efforts of the Indian Government and various Sports Federations in identifying and funding the best and most deserving medal prospects for the Olympic games.