India will be sending its largest boxing contingent ever to the Tokyo Olympics with as many as nine pugilists making the cut. The last time India sent a large squad to the Olympics was at the 2012 London Games when eight boxers qualified for the sport's biggest stage.
India’s first boxing medal at the Olympics came at the 2008 Beijing Games when Vijender Singh took bronze. Mary Kom kept the momentum going when she bagged a bronze in London four years later. Considering the form and preparation of the Indian pugilists, many believe the country has a bright chance of increasing its medal tally at the Tokyo Olympics.
It is difficult to judge how many medals Indian boxers will bring from Tokyo Olympics but podium finishes from Mary Kom and Amit Panghal are a real possibility. Besides the duo, Pooja Rani is also one to watch out for at the Tokyo Olympics.
Tokyo Olympics: Indians who could return with boxing medals
#1 Amit Panghal (Men’s 52kg)
Amit Panghal showed why he is the best in the category at the recent Asian Boxing Championships in Dubai. Ranked No.1 in the world, Panghal defeated the likes of Mongolia’s Kharkhuu Enkhmandakh and 2019 world bronze medallist Saken Bibossinov enroute to the final.
In the summit clash, the Indian fought tremendously against reigning Olympic champion Shakobidin Zoirov before going down 2-3. Panghal had also reached the Boxam International tournament quarterfinals, where he lost to Gabriel Escobar.
Although Panghal did not win gold in either of these tournaments, the kind of form and mindset the Haryana boxer is in, a semifinal at the Tokyo Olympics is well within reach. He also won 2018 Asian Games gold, as well as the Asian Championships gold and World Championships silver in 2019.
#2 Mary Kom (Women's 51kg)
Mary Kom is a pre-tournament favourite. While seven quotas out of 26 are yet to be filled, the entries made so far suggest she is a good bet to reach the semifinals.
Just before the 2021 Asian Championships, Mary Kom revealed that she wants to assess where her game is in Dubai. Her performance gave fans of Indian boxing reason to be optimistic, as she looked in good touch on her way to an eighth Asian Championships silver medal.
Winner of six World Championships, 38-year-old Mary Kom is pushing hard to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics. She also secured a bronze at the Boxam International meet earlier in the year.
#3 Pooja Rani (Women's 75kg)
Pooja Rani’s gold medal at the Asian Boxing Championships has brought her into the limelight. She has a good chance of finishing on the Tokyo Olympics podium next month. Pooja, who was in top form from 2012 to 2015, had a bad patch thereafter before reigniting herself with the 2019 Asian Championships gold in Bangkok.
At this year's Asian Championships in Dubai, Pooja directly made the semifinals. However, her semifinal opponent gave a walkover, which pitted the Indian boxer against Mavluda Movlonova of Uzbekistan. Pooja is also part of the possible European trip that the Tokyo Olympics-bound boxers will be availing before heading towards Tokyo.
India’s Tokyo Olympics boxing contingent
Men: Amit Panghal (52 kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), Vikas Krishan (69 kg), Ashish Kumar (75 kg), Satish Kumar (+91 kg)
Women: Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg)