The boxer also revealed that he wants to win a medal in the tournament.
Having won a silver at the Asian Championships and a gold at the Thailand Open International Boxing Tournament, Ashish Kumar had a very successful year in 2019. He also booked a berth at the Tokyo Olympics after a terrific showing at the Asian Olympic Boxing Qualifiers earlier this year, and is now India’s first choice in the 75kg category.
But life was not always a bed of roses for the Sundernagar-based boxer, as he himself admitted in a recent interview. He also shockingly revealed that at one stage, he had even contemplated quitting the sport altogether, after his career felt stagnated due to a lack of success.
“When I started boxing at the junior level, I felt it would be easy because I was always a brawler. But, when I reached the national level I couldn’t give the best performance,” Ashish Kumar said, while speaking with wrestler-turned-actor Sangram Singh an Instagram Live session. “I used to lose my first, second or third fight in every competition and get eliminated. I felt I wasn’t made for the sport and will not achieve much.”
Back then, he was still a teenager. Shortly afterward, he joined the Bhiwani Boxing Club, where he trained under coach Devraj Singh for about six years before returning to the national stage. Unfortunately, success continued to elude him, as he found out.
“I remember, I was confident of winning the (2013) Senior Nationals that year. If not winning, I knew I could get a medal, at the very least,” he said, when asked about those testing times in his career. “I lost the third round to a boxer that I never thought I would lose to. That broke my self-confidence. I thought of quitting boxing and taking up a normal job.”
In 2015, Ashish’s fortunes finally started to change for the better, as he won gold at the National Games. “I had decided if this [National Games] did not work out, I would give up boxing and try something else. But luckily things turned out well,” he said.
“I beat the reigning national champion in the semi-finals and won the final to claim the gold medal. That win was like a new ray of hope in my life. From being nothing to defeating the champion, I made everyone believe I could do bigger things.”
“But the problem didn’t end there,” he went on. “In the 2017 National, I was over-weight before my medal bout and that was another low for me. I was desperate to prove myself and decided to give it my everything in the camp. My practice was really good and coaches sent me for International tournaments but my performance at the International level in the 6-7 tournaments was very bad.”
“I started thinking that I am not made for international tournaments. Despite so many opportunities, I couldn’t perform at all. Thoughts about quitting the game crossed my mind then also.”
Ashish Kumar then went on to describe how he had a complete turnaround in fortunes in 2019. “In April 2019, I got the chance to participate in the Asian Championship and at that time, I wasn’t thinking about the Olympics at all. I won a silver medal there after defeating good boxers. That was the turning point of my career and I didn’t look back from there at all,” he said.
“My confidence was at such a level that I thought that I can beat anyone. In July 2019, gold in Thailand open gave me more assurance and boost as it was my first gold at the International level. I think that is my best performance.”
“The important thing is whatever I have done till now, I want to dedicate to my late father. He had this wish that he wanted to see me play in the Olympics, so what I have done is just to make his wish come true. And now, I want to win a medal in the Olympics,” Ashish Kumar signed off.