These pugilists hit big at the elite championship.

The 2021 World Boxing Championships are currently going on in Belgrade, Serbia. Organized by the International Boxing Association, the prestigious biennial event is an amateur boxing competition. The tournament, which had its inception in Havana, Cuba in 1974, has come a long way since then.

What started as a men’s only event has now branched out to women’s boxing, but their dates don’t coincide. As in the men’s event happens every odd year, while the women’s every even year. However, the women’s event did switch to odd years in 2019. The 2019 event in Yekaterinburg, Russia saw India finish in sixth place. So, obviously, this year the expectations are higher from the Indian contingent to better that result.

Let’s take a look at all the male boxers who have made India proud at this event. Some of the big names have delivered at boxing’s biggest competition:

1. Vijender Singh (Bronze)

Professional boxer Vijender Singh was the first Indian to win a medal at the World Boxing Championships in 2009. The tournament took place at the Mediolanum Forum in Milan, Italy. Vijender competed in the 75kg middleweight category.

Starting with good momentum, the Indian boxer racked up wins over the likes of Azamat Belgibayev, Steve Rolls and Sergiy Derevyanchenko. Unfortunately, he was beaten in the semi-final by Uzbekistan’s Abbos Atoev. A 3-7 loss meant Singh had to settle for the bronze medal. Vijender was leading in the first round with a slight margin of 1-0 and the third round was equally contested as well. However, it was the second round that cost him the match.

Atoev made five points in that round which took the bout away from the hands of the Indian.

2. Vikas Krishan (Bronze)

Just like the 2009 event in Milan, India finished in 14th place in Baku in 2011 as well, with Ukraine, Cuba and host nation Azerbaijan leading the fray. The only medal came due to the performance of a boy from Haryana. Vikas Krishan won a bronze and his journey to the medal was quite a story.

Vikas participated at the Tokyo Olympics (Courtesy- Olympics)

His bout with Magomed Nurutdinov in the round of 16 was tied. He eventually got through as he had scored the last point. Vikas also got a victory over Vasilii Belous with a margin of just one point. His losing effort in the semi-final against Taras Shelestyuk was also close. He lost that bout in the World Boxing Championships by only three points.

The welterweight boxer had to share his medal with Lithuania’s Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

3. Shiva Thapa (Bronze)

Multiple-time Asian boxing champion Shiva Thapa also left his mark at the World Championships. The bantamweight boxer piled up wins in Doha in 2015 to reach the semi-final of the tournament. Moreover, one of his wins at the event was a knockout.

That win came against Morocco’s Mohamed Hamout. He was eventually defeated in the semi-final by Murodjon Akhmadaliev. Akhmadaliev was the No. 1 seed and took the win with a 3-0 scoreline. Shiva had to be content with the bronze medal. His performance helped India move up three places to 11th in the medal tally.

Moreover, the victory made the Guwahati lad the third Indian to win a medal in the history of the tournament.

4. Gaurav Bidhuri (Bronze)

After Shiv Thapa, it was Gaurav Bidhuri’s turn to win glory for the country. Bidhuri entered the tournament as a wild card and took everyone by surprise. Opponents came and fell in front of him. Only one boxer could manage to score off him till the semi-final stage.

The semi-final at the Alsterdorfer Sporthalle in Hamburg saw Bidhuri taking on the USA’s Duke Ragan. The American beat him 5-0 to end his dream run at the World Boxing Championships. Despite the loss, Bhiduri won a lot of fame and was applauded for his brave performance.

He is the first and only wild card entrant to win a medal in the competition.

5. Amit Panghal (Silver)

Asian Boxing Championships amit panghal
Panghal broke the jinx at the tournament (Courtesy-BFI)

The curse of the bronze medal at the World Boxing Championships was finally ended in 2019. Star boxer Amit Panghal won a silver in the flyweight division. It was the first time that India had won a silver at this event.

Panghal’s one-sided wins over opponents demonstrated his dominance. He defeated the likes of Tu Po Wei, Batuhan Ciftci, Carlo Paalam and Saken Bibossinov. Panghal received a setback in the final of the competition. He lost to Shakhobidin Zoirov to settle for a silver medal. Zoirov was at the top of his game that year and none of his opponents had won a point against him in the tournament.

Despite that loss, Amit’s achievements showed that Indian boxing was headed in the right direction.

6. Manish Kaushik (Bronze)

Manish Kaushik’s performance was another key factor that helped India climb upto the sixth spot in Russia. The light-welterweight boxer was downright dominant till his loss in the semi-final to eventual winner Andy Cruz. The boxer who became the Indian national champion in 2017, after defeating Shiva Thapa looked unbeatable at times.

His opponents succumbed in front of him having no answer to his skills. All his victories ended with a 5-0 scoreline. Ironically, his loss too finished with the same points margin. Kaushik got outplayed by Cruz’s speed and power. However, it didn’t stop India from winning two medals at the World Boxing Championships.

7. Akash Kumar (Bronze)

Akash Kumar won the seventh medal for India at the World Boxing Championships in 2021. The 20-year-old was playing his maiden international tournament at the elite level but showed great maturity during his bouts. His sensational run in the tournament ended with a 0-5 defeat in the semi-final against Kazakhstan’s Makhmud Sabyrkhan.

Playing in the 54kg category, Akash started the last-4 bout aggressively as the first round saw both the boxers trading heavy blows. However, the Kazakh boxer looked in a better position with relentless punches which put the Indian on the backfoot at the end of a pulsating opening round. Akash tried making a comeback in the second round and showcased some brilliant skills to overcome the fight that Sabyrkhan put up.

The boxer from Bhiwani gave it all but somehow fell short when it came to matching up with the speed and accuracy of Sabyrkhan. The southpaw capitalised onto the momentum in the final round to complete victory by a unanimous decision.

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