Name: Amit Panghal
Category: Men’s 49 kg
Past Commonwealth Games performance: Debutant
Best performance: Bronze medal in 2017 Asian Championships
With notable pugilists like Shiva Thapa and Gaurav Bidhuri find themselves missing from the Indian boxing contingent travelling to the Gold Coast for the Commonwealth Games, all eyes will be on the likes of Vikas Krishan to bring home the medals. Also sharing the spotlight with Krishan will be young Amit Panghal, who comes to the CWG after a breakthrough year in 2017, winning a bronze medal during the Asian Championships. He also won the gold at the Indian Open boxing tournament the same year apart from a victory at the Strandja International Boxing Tournament.
Panghal, who hails from Myna village in Rohtak district, started boxing in 2009 when he was still in school. His interest in sports had been piqued by his elder brother, Ajay, who he also followed into the Indian Army recently. Panghal currently serves in the Indian Army as a Junior Commissioned Officer, according to a report in The Tribune.
Ever since he took up boxing, he has racked up the medals. In his first year itself, he returned home with a gold medal in the 25th Sub-Junior National Boxing Championship. In the following years, he won silvers at the same competition.
Panghal also claimed best boxer titles at multiple state-level championships, before he made his foray into the senior level in 2016.
But it was really a year later that he had his breakthrough. He first made the world sit up and take notice with a bronze medal at the Asian Boxing Championships. Panghal brushed aside Afghanistan’s Ramish Rahmani and Kornelis Wangu before losing to Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan in the semi-final which earned him a bronze.
He came close to repeating that feat during the 2017 AIBA World Championships in Hamburg. However, he ran into Dusmatov again — this time in the quarter-finals — just one win away from a medal.
Panghal beat Italy’s Federico Serra and Ecuador’s Carlos Quipo before losing out to Olympic champion Dusmatov in the quarter-finals of the light flyweight division (49kg). Dusmatov had won both the gold medal and the Val Barker Trophy for the best boxer at the 2016 Rio Olympics only a year ago and went on to win silver at the World Championships.
Later that year, Panghal made up for the disappointment in Hamburg with a gold medal at the at the 69th edition of the Strandja International Boxing Tournament in Sofia — a victory which reiterated his medal-winning credentials going into the Commonwealth Games. With familiar foe Dusmatov not participating at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, Panghal could end up among the medals.
At the last edition of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Devendro Singh brought back a silver medal in the light flyweight division. This time, the onus will be on Panghal, to repeat — or even better — that feat.