Debutant Akash Kumar secured India's first medal at the AIBA Men’s Boxing World Championships 2021 on Tuesday in Belgrade, Serbia. The 21-year-old advanced to the 54kg category semi-finals after an impressive win by unanimous decision over former Olympic silver medallist Yoel Finol Rivas of Venezuela.
Akash become the 7th Indian male boxer to win a medal at the World Championships after Vijender Singh (Bronze, 2009 Milan), Vikas Krishan (Bronze, 2011 Baku), Shiva Thapa (Bronze, 2015 Doha), Gaurav Bidhuri (Bronze, 2017 Hamburg), Amit Panghal (Silver, 2019 Yekaterinburg), and Manish Kaushik (Bronze, 2019 Yekaterinburg).
Akash, the reigning national champion, scored on counter-attacks with a non-existent guard and taunted his opponent. He did all this while staying out of Rivas's range with quick pace and footwork.
The youngster lost his mother to a lung infection in September while he was competing at the national championships in Bellary.
Rivas had originally bagged a bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics but the medal was upgraded to silver after the original second-place finisher failed a dope test.
Akash will face Makhmud Sabyrkhan of Kazakhstan in the semi-final on November 4 (Thursday).
Shiva Thapa can join Akash Kumar to make it double medal win for India
Five-time Asian medallist Shiva Thapa (63.5kg) will have a chance to confirm another medal for India. A bronze medallist at the 2015 world championships, the Assamese pugilist will square off against Turkey’s Kerem Oezmen in the quarterfinals.
Three more Indians will compete in the quarterfinals later today. Narender Berwal (+92kg) meets Azerbaijan’s Mahmmad Abdullayev, Nishant Dev (71kg) takes on Russia’s Vadim Musaev and reigning Asian champion Senjeet (92kg) locks horns with Italy’s Aziz Abbes Mouhiidine