New Delhi: Feints are one of the minute details in boxing that separate world-class fighters from others. The technique helped India’s young sensation Deepak Bhoria (51kg) achieve a historic feat at the World Boxing Championships in Tashkent.
Deepak went down fighting to two-time World Championships bronze medallist France’s Bilal Bennama 3-4 split verdict in a close contest, but the Haryana lad believes that he has learned his lesson well.
Speaking to IANS on Tuesday, the World Championship bronze medallist shared his struggle-filled journey.
“I was out because of my right shoulder injury (January 2022). I worked really hard and learned how important it is to be patient. I made a comeback in January this year, and now a bronze medal in the Worlds. It feels really great but yes still a long way to go. My last bout was good but there might be a reason that I lost�will work on it and change the colour of my medal next time,” Deepak said.
“There is always room for improvement and I believe I learned a lot during my injury period. It was tough but I kept myself calm and focused.”
Asked about the areas he worked on, the 26-year-old pugilist said, “I was focusing more on strength…Yes, speed and endurance are equally important.”
Before the World Championships, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) appointed Dmitry Dmitruk as the Indian boxing team’s foreign coach. And last year, former Irish professional boxer Bernard Dunne was named the high-performance director (HPD) for Indian boxing. Dunne, who had a five-year (2017-2022) stint with the Irish Athletic Boxing Association, replaced Santiago Nieva of Spain.
The appointments seem impressive as Indians won a good number of medals in both men’s and women’s World championships.
Enquiring about the tips he got before the championship, Deepak said, “We were working on the feint (faking a move) method. Feinting helps you keep opponents guessing, which inevitably opens them up for attacks. It’s when you show your opponent an intention to do something, but then you do something else.”
“We are learning new methods and thanks to the Boxing Federation of India for providing us with all the facilities,” he said.
Deepak’s achievement has left in doubt Amit Phangal’s place in the squad for Asian Games. It will be interesting to see how things unfold in the coming days. But so far, Deepak is in!
From ‘newspaper vendor’ to becoming ‘news’ himself!
In 2008, when Deepak was just an 11-year-old he started boxing at the insistence of his uncle. His father was a constable and his mother, a homemaker, who also worked on the farm. Life was never easy.
In 2009, due to dire financial constraints, young Deepak was forced to quit boxing as he couldn’t afford the expenses of diet and training which were a must to ensure he had a good physique and mental training.
His dream of becoming a boxer was almost over, but his coach, Rajesh Sheoran helped him back into the ring. He helped him by paying his diet and training expenses. In 2011, when everything seemed to move smoothly, Deepak was struck by a mighty blow where he suffered a career-threatening fracture to his right hand. The fracture continued to trouble him for almost two years before he underwent surgery.
While everything looked uncertain about his professional career and he had started doubting himself, that injury gave Deepak new perspectives. While he was unable to move his right hand, he slowly strengthened his left, which he says helped him a lot now as he is equally deft at fighting with both hands.
Despite the downhill that boxing faced with a dearth of competitive tournaments, Deepak never gave up. He continued with training but in 2015, life threw in a fresh set of challenges for the pugilist. The financial crisis was something that continued to haunt him, so much so that the boxer had to work as a newspaper vendor to sustain himself.
Finally, in 2016, there was some silver lining in the dark clouds. He joined Madras Engineering Group (MEG), Bangalore, and later that year, he also was selected by the Army Sports Institute, Pune. Since then, he has never looked back. His financial crisis was taken care of and his career saw an upswing. Deepak won a gold medal at the 2018 Senior National Championship and in 2019 he won a gold medal at the Makran Cup on his international debut.
Deepak carried that confidence into the 2019 Asian Boxing Championships and stormed into the final, where he had to settle for the silver in a tight match that went in favour of Nodirjon Mirzakhmedov of Uzbekistan 3-2.
He announced himself on the global stage in 2021 when he defeated the 2016 Rio Olympic gold medallist and 2019 World Champion Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan at the Strandja Memorial tournament.
2022 was a tough year for Deepak as he sustained an injury in his right shoulder in January and almost spent the whole year on the sidelines because of that.
Deepak has been one of the most improved and developed boxers in recent times. And his recent achievement in the 51kg Flyweight category at World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, has raised India’s hope in the next major tournaments.
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