As many as nine Indian boxers have qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, including five men and four women pugilists. The discipline has been one of India’s stronger fortes in the past three editions of the summer games. The Indian boxing contingent has, so far, won two Olympic medals.
But with nine pugilists in the fray for the Tokyo Olympics, this is India’s strongest-ever boxing contingent and hopes are sky-high.
While some of them have been masters in their art, some are slowly making a name for themselves at the top level. But all nine are eyeing no less than a podium finish at the upcoming 2021 Tokyo Olympics.
Indian boxing contingent for the upcoming Olympics:
Amit Panghal (52 kg), Manish Kaushik (63 kg), Vikas Krishan (69 kg), Ashish Kumar (75 kg), Satish Kumar (+91 kg)
Mary Kom (51kg), Simranjit Kaur (60kg), Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Pooja Rani (75kg)
Now, let us have a look at the boxers that are potential medal contenders at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics:
Amit Panghal (Men's 52 kg event)
As things stand, Amit Panghal is ranked the top pugilist in the 52 kg category as per the latest listings. Even though he crashed out of the Boxam International tournament in the quarter-finals against Gabriel Escobar, the home-advantage factor, which acted as a catalyst for Escobar in Spain, will be negated altogether in Tokyo.
It was only in 2018 that the Haryana-based boxer won a gold medal at the Jakarta Asian Games. He followed up with a win at the Asian Championships and a Silver medal at the World Championships in 2019.
Panghal has always been a force to reckon with in the flyweight category and there’s no reason why we should not expect a medal from him at the Games.
Manish Kaushik (Men's 63 kg event)
The boxer qualified for the Tokyo Olympics at the Asian Championships back in March 2020, but suffered an injury that could well have made him skip the mega-event. But the Covid-19 pandemic struck and Manish Kaushik got a lifeline.
Even though he did not receive the required medical attention during the lockdown, he managed to recover slowly and steadily.
The pugilist made a remarkable comeback in the Boxam International tournament in style, claiming a gold medal in the 64 kg category. Just months away from the Tokyo showdown, the win has boosted the confidence level of the 2019 World Championship's bronze medallist.
MC Mary Kom (Women's 51 kg event)
A bronze medal winner at the 2012 London Olympic Games, MC Mary Kom is aiming to better his record at the Tokyo Games. Already a record holder in the World Championships, having won six titles so far, Mary Kom has bagged top honors in every major tournament she’s been a part of, including the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Asian Championships.
The only medal still eluding the legendary boxer is an Olympic gold. She was aiming for a podium finish at the 2016 Rio Games but Mary Kom failed to qualify for the event. Having secured a bronze medal at the Boxam International tournament last month, one of the top-ranked pugilists in the 52kg category is ready to unleash her best in Japan.
Lovlina Borgohain (Women's 69 kg event)
One of the juniors in the Indian boxing contingent, Lovlina Borgohain’s rise at the international level is yet to reach its peak. She won a couple of bronze medals at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships respectively. She also won the bronze in the Asian Championships, back in 2017.
What works in her favor is her ranking in the 69kg category, which was third as per the latest update by AIBA. Although it was expected that the boxer would go on to claim a medal at the Boxam International tournament, she suffered a shock defeat in the quarter-finals.
Despite the result, she remains one of India's medal prospects at the 2021 Tokyo Games.
Simranjit Kaur (Women's 60 kg event)
Simranjit Kaur is also seen as one of India’s medal prospects, even though she, like Borgohain, doesn’t boast of top accolades like many others on the list yet. She won the bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships, followed by a silver medal at the 2019 Asian Championships.
But claiming a silver at the 2021 Boxam International tournament, just months before the Olympics kick-start, will surely boost her confidence. Most importantly, she was ranked sixth as per the latest AIBA rankings, which proves why it won't be a surprise if Simranjit claims a podium finish at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics.