GOLD COAST: However clichéd it might sound, gold is not enough for Vikas Krishan. Despite winning the yellow metal beating Dieudonne Wilfried Seyi Ntsengue of Cameroon in the 75kg men’s boxing final at Oxenford, he sounded sombre and his eyes kept wandering towards the faraway land.
Like a Buddhist monk, Vikas is seeking inner peace. He is in the threshold of an existential crisis that’s wrecking havoc in his mind. Ironically, the turmoil within has nothing to do with failure but success.
The burden of expectations and to perform match after match and competition after the competition has pounded Vikas’ psyche harder than those lumberjack punches in the ring. It’s not easy when pressure comes from a 90-year-old grandfather, a five-year-old son and everyone in between.
The escape, he believes, is through turning professional. The number of matches will decrease and there will be no nationalistic jargon from his father that he has to listen to whenever he loses. Also, he will get more opportunities to come back since it will be a 12-round game and not three.
“It’s not easy,” says Vikas. “I had to win this. There is pressure from my coach, fans and country.” Every time he steps into the ring, flashes of those dejected grumpy faces of his loved ones float across his mind.
“My son wants me to wear red and most of the time I don’t get to choose. So he is unhappy. Luckily, here I had red in all my fights. My father (Krishan Kumar) doesn’t talk to me if I lose."
“My kids send me voice notes before every fight — five, three and two years old. I even have to explain to my 90-year-old grandfather!” It has not been easy leading a life of a champion. Since the Olympics in 2016, he feels the pressure has increased.
Seniority brings about responsibility. Vikas is the senior most boxer in the squad. “If I lose, everyone is going to ask questions. I am a role model for students. So many players and coaches tell me, you can’t lose.”
For the 26-year-old from Hissar, success has been a double-edged sword. It impacts him in personal life too.
“I am worried about facing people because they have so much confidence in me.” Hours before a fight, Vikas gets more anxious. “If I win everything will be alright, but if I lose then...” his voice fades.
Saturday was different. Gaurav Solanki’s gold had eased him. “If others lose and I don’t win then people will ask ‘hey, how can you lose despite so much experience?”
This has started affecting his personal life as well. “When I win, people talk to me for longer and when I lose they don’t. You can see the disappointment.”
At 26, he has a lot of boxing left in him. The International Boxing Association’s new rule to allow professionals to compete in Olympics has given him hope.
Solanki, on the other, has just stepped into the limelight. It showed in his fight.
He was free and the way he moved and threw punches at Brendan Irvine of Northern Ireland showed his raw talent. As he walked into the mixed zone, blood was dripping from his temple, mixing with the sweat from his chin.
He was unmindful of the pain. He had won gold in his maiden Commonwealth Games. Blood and scars, like medals, are every boxer’s precious relics. He pointed his finger to the head.
“That’s okay. I got hurt when his elbow hit me,” he said. He hopes life will change after this.