CHENNAI: Not so long ago, every time when Kavinder Singh Bisht used to step on a weighing machine, he’d have plenty to mull.
As a boxer used to competing in the 52kg category, maintaining that weight had become a monumental task. In fact, that ended up overshadowing other important aspects of his training, hugely affecting his game.
“I was facing trouble in reducing my weight. Trying to do that took a toll on my body. I ended up draining most of my energy. And when the time came to step inside the ring during competitions, I was not able to give my best.”
That became such a big problem that Kavinder ended up with a disappointing 2018. He could not make it to big-ticket events. While his teammates punched their way to glory during Commonwealth Games — India won eight medals in the 10 men’s categories — the 24-year-old was left searching for answers. Future looked uncertain for the man from Uttarakhand. “Not being in any major competitions played on my mind. I felt pressure. However, I just tried to focus on my training.”
In that tough period, Kavinder chose to remain optimistic. His performance inside the ring might have dipped, but backing from his family and colleagues was a constant.
That willingness to keep fighting finally paid off as he won silver in an international meet (Russia) last August. Though that came as a welcome relief, but Kavinder knew it was time for a change if he had to sustain that level of fight. That’s when he decided to switch to 56kg.
After discussions with his coaches, he made the shift late last year, during the start of the national camp in Patiala.
And that has paid off so far. With more time to focus on skills, Kavinder has left a strong impression. One so good that he is now a part of the 10-man squad that will take part at the upcoming Asian Championship, from April 16-27 in Bangkok.
“Now, I feel that my body is in tune. I have just the right amount of energy. I believe this state of mind and body will help me bring out my best in key tournaments.”
Kavinder rose above some top competitors to make the 56kg cut. Some of the big names were World
Championship bronze-medallist Gaurav Bidhuri, CWG bronze-medallist Mohammad Hussamuddin and national champ Madan Lal. Kavinder has bested Hussamuddin thrice in recent times, with the last victory confirming his selection. Before that, he had beaten the Hyderabadi in an all-Indian final at an international meet in Finland.
And, such a competitive environment has tempered Kavinder’s game. “I believe everyone is on the same level. The competition is quite tough. But we do share a healthy equation. We take cues from each other.”
Kavinder has shown glimpses of his talent in the past, having reached in 2o17 the quarterfinals of both the Asian and World Championships. Now back on his feet, a medal in Thailand doesn’t look that unlikely for him.