Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Former Asian Games bronze medallist Pooja Rani (81kg) stunned reigning world champion Wang Lina in the final while Asian Games champion Amit Panghal (52kg) clinched the second gold while four other finalists finished runners up as India bagged best-ever haul of 13 medals, at the Asian Boxing Championships in Bangkok on Friday.
In her very first year of competing in the 81kg category after having fought in the 75kg, Pooja had to stave off a stiff resistance from the Chinese to secure a 4-1 victory in the final bout.
This was the 28-year-old Bhiwani boxer’s third medal from the Asian Championships after a silver in 2012 and a bronze in 2015. This is also India’s first ever gold in the 81kg category from this elite tournament.
Korea’s Kim Inkyu was no match for the 23-year-old Amit Panghal who continued his Asian domination in his continental competitive debut in the 52kg category after moving up from 49kg.
With a sizzling display of power and precision, an aggressive Amit emerged a 5-0 winner to add to the gold medal he won at the start of the season at the Strandja Cup. This is Amit’s second medal from the Asian Championships following a bronze in 2017.
Panghal had earlier beaten the reigning Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov this week after having accounted for the Uzbek at the Asian Games 49kg final last year.
However, besides Amit and Pooja Rani, India had to settle for silver in the rest of the four finals.
In 56kg, Kavinder Bisht put up a spirited display and a lionhearted performance despite a cut over his right eye, which he had sustained in the semi-finals, opening up. The GeeBee Boxing tournament gold medallist gave his all before going down 0-5 to Uzbekistan’s Mirazizbek Mirzahalilov.
Makran Cup champion Deepak (49kg) fought tooth and nail against Nodirjon Mirzakhmedov of Uzbekistan but the national champion had to accept a 2-3 defeat in a tough bout where the judges gave their verdict in favour of the Uzbek.
The Indian started the bout with a fiery display but the resilient Uzbek came storming back. In the final round, Deepak attacked bravely but endured a heartbreak eventually.
In 75kg, Ashish Kumar too had to be content with the silver medal after going down 0-5 to Kazakhstan’s Tursynbay Kulakhmet.
Among the women, World Championships bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur (64kg) showed her grit and determination but came up short 1-4 against China’s Dan Dou, the same boxer she had lost to in the semi-finals of the world event at home last year.
This is the maiden Asian Championships medal for each of Bisht, Deepak, Ashish Kumar, and Simranjit.
Earlier on Thursday, India secured seven bronze medals. Shiva Thapa (60kg) added a record fourth consecutive medal to his kitty while former world champion Sarita Devi (60kg) won her eighth medal from this prestigious tournament.
Also winning the bronze was Nikhat Zareen (51kg), Manisha Moun (54kg), Sonia Chahal (57kg), Ashish (69kg), and Satish Kumar (+91kg).
India had the second best number of finalists at Asian Championships. With 6 pugilists on the final day, India trailed only China who had 7.
This was the first time that the women’s competition was held simultaneously as the men at the Asian Championships.
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