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Can Indian boxers create history at the Tokyo Olympics?

Boxing at Tokyo Olympics - A golden opportunity for Team India to Create History
Boxing at Tokyo Olympics - A golden opportunity for Team India to Create History

Whether the Tokyo Olympics goes ahead as planned or not depends entirely on the decisions taken by Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. The Games, which were originally scheduled to take place in July 2020, were forced to be postponed by a year to July 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which continues to rage on.

While every nation will be giving their best at the Tokyo Olympics in an effort to take on the top athletes in the world as well as the risks posed by the raging pandemic, for India's boxing nine-strong contingent, the event holds more promise than ever before.

Keeping in mind the possibility of a historic upset or two, we look at five key stories revolving around India's boxing prospects at the Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo Olympics hold multiple-medal prospects for Indian boxing contingent

While the Indian boxers missed out on a podium finish at Rio 2016, at Tokyo, they will have a chance to set things right.

First, let's take a look at all nine boxers to have made the cut and their respective categories:

Amit Kumar Panghal [Men's Boxing - Flyweight]

Manish Kaushik [Men's Boxing - Lightweight]

Vikas Krishan Yadav [Men's Boxing - Welterweight]

Ashish Kumar [Men's Boxing - Middleweight]

Satish Kumar [Men's Boxing - Super Heavyweight]

Hmangte Chungneijang Mary Kom [Women's Boxing - Flyweight]

Simranjit Kaur [Women's Boxing - Lightweight]

Lovlina Borgohain [Women's Boxing - Welterweight]

Pooja Rani [Women's Boxing - Middleweight]

With a silver or even gold medal not completely out of the question where Amit Panghal is concerned, the Tokyo Olympics will provide the diminutive flyweight his best opportunity to live up to his 'Giant Slayer' moniker. Many have pegged him to eclipse Beijing 2008 bronze medallist Vijender Singh's achievements and become the new face of Indian boxing. The event will also offer 'Magificent Mary' or MC Mary Kom one final shot at glory before she hangs up her gloves.

9 Boxers, 9 Medals from the Tokyo Olympics?

Can 9 Indian boxers convert their chances into 9 historic medals at Tokyo Olympics
Can 9 Indian boxers convert their chances into 9 historic medals at Tokyo Olympics

The Tokyo Olympics will mark the first time in the history of Indian boxing that nine boxers have made the cut for the Olympics, beating the previous record of eight (London 2012). Also for the first time, India will be sending more than one female pugilist to the Olympics, with four having qualified.

But can all nine boxers bring back nine medals? While naysayers may find it ridiculous, the probability is quite high. Most of the contenders are boxers who have made their mark against all odds, and some of them are legitimate gold medal contenders. Among them, our most likely picks for a historic gold medal are Amit Panghal, Manish Kaushik, Vikas Krishan Yadav and MC Mary Kom.

Can Mary Kom end her career on a golden high at the Tokyo Olympics?

Can Mary Kom end her career on a golden high at Tokyo?
Can Mary Kom end her career on a golden high at Tokyo?

For Mary Kom, a six-time world champion and current member of the Indian Parliament, the Tokyo Olympics will mark only her second foray into the quadrennial event, having failed to make it to Rio in 2016. It is also likely to be her last chance at the Games, given that she is already 38 years old.

The Manipuri boxer will therefore be keen to end her illustrious career on a high at the Tokyo Olympics. She won a historic bronze in the women's flyweight category in London 2012 and will be determined to make the most of this chance.

Also read: Tokyo Olympic 2020: 5 things to know about boxing superstar Mary Kom

While there has been a lot of change in women's boxing since London 2012, Mary Kom is one of the few boxers who has never shied away from adapting her style if it can lead her to glory. While her journey has anything but a bed of roses, we can certainly expect a couple of surprises from 'Magnificent Mary' at the Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo Olympics: Amit Panghal's best chance to become the face of boxing in India

Amit Panghal - Can the sprightly soldier create history at Tokyo?
Amit Panghal - Can the sprightly soldier create history at Tokyo?

Another Indian pugilist whose shoulders will be carry high expectations at the Tokyo Olympics is "Giant Slayer" Amit Kumar Panghal. Hailing from Bhiwani, the Haryana district renowned for producing names such as Jitender Kumar, Vijender Singh and Vikas Krishnan Yadav, Amit Panghal is touted as the next big name in Indian boxing.

Ever since he won gold at the Jakarta Asiad in 2018, Panghal, who is currently posted with the Mahar Regiment of the Indian Army, hasn't looked back. He went on to bag a silver medal at the AIBA World Boxing Championships in 2019 and followed it up with a historic gold at the AIBA Boxing World Cup 2020.

Also read: Army man Amit Panghal wants to win an Olympic gold medal for the nation and is training hard for it (Exclusive)

Having sent jitters across the best in his category, he is one boxer whom even the Americans won't take lightly at the Tokyo Olympics.

Tokyo Olympics are a chance at redemption for Vikas Krishnan Yadav and Satish Kumar

It's time for Vikas Krishan Yadav to make himself count
It's time for Vikas Krishan Yadav to make himself count

The Tokyo Olympics will provide a chance at redemption for Vikas Krishan Yadav and Satish Kumar, two of the most experienced boxers in the Tokyo-bound batch.

Once regarded as a suitable successor to Vijender Singh, Yadav, who is competing in the welterweight category again, has of late struggled to regain his identity. After shooting to fame with a historic gold at the Guangzhou Asian Games in 2010, the Youth Olympics medalist missed the podium in Rio 2016 by a whisker and will now be looking to make his mark in Tokyo.

Time for Satish Kumar to make the one chance count in Boxing at Tokyo 2021
Time for Satish Kumar to make the one chance count in Boxing at Tokyo 2021

Likewise, for Satish Kumar, the first Indian boxer to qualify for the Olympics in the super heavyweight category, a ticket to Tokyo is nothing less than salvation. The 6'2" Bulandshahr native was cruelly robbed of a chance at representing his country at Rio 2016, following a gash in his eyebrow, and will certainly be keen to make his Tokyo Olympics shot count. Expect a podium finish from Satish Kumar, at the very least.

Overall, India can expect nothing short of five medals, should everything go according to plan. One can even expect boxers like Amit Panghal, Vikas Krishnan Yadav and Mary Kom to create history and bring back an unimaginable haul of multiple gold medals from the Tokyo Olympics.

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Edited by Sandeep Banerjee
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