CHENNAI : With the national championships coming too soon for Amit Panghal and the rest of the Tokyo participants, plenty of fresh faces will be part of the upcoming men’s World Championships. One among them is Deepak Bhoria, who’s likely to challenge Panghal’s status as the country’s No 1 in the flyweight category (52kg) in the near future. In Panghal’s absence, Bhoria asserted his class to clinch the gold medal in style during the nationals, which was held at IIS, Bellary from September 15-21. The icing on the cake for Bhoria was he was adjudged the best boxer of the championships.
“I was aware that if I won gold, I could be part of World Championships. So I was up for the challenge. I was taking it one bout at a time. I’m delighted with my performance,” Bhoria told this daily. Bhoria’s success is no fluke as his recent career graph shows that he has plenty of potential, having won the nationals in 2018 and medals at international meets in the last few years.
“I have been competing at the international level since 2019. So I have gained some level of confidence. Now I’m aware of how I should approach a bout, what I need to do inside the ring in order to fetch points. So it has been a beneficial experience and I hope to do well in the future.” But Bhoria has endured difficult times in his career. To begin with, he was considered to be too frail to be a boxer and coming from humble roots, he lacked the resources to get good dietary supplements in order to bulk up. In his maiden senior nationals, the Army man had suffered a knockout in the third round. It goes without saying it was a real eye-opener for Bhoria, who was then competing in the 49kg category. But with the never-ending backing of his family and coaches, Bhoria never lost faith in his pursuit for excellence in the sport.
“When I used to train, my coach used to say that my game is good. I used to get thoughts like ‘my game is good but I’m not getting the results that I aspired for,’ But despite that, I used to get the encouragement. So I used to keep those words in my mind and continue with my training. I knew I would get a chance,” he said. Now when he recollects those days of toil, he feels those experiences were vital as it made him a more rounded athlete. “If you are chasing big things, difficulties will keep coming and going. Those difficulties are also crucial to shape us into champion figures. We are prone to injuries in boxing, we always have to be prepared. I have to keep fighting.”
Army coach Narendra Rana, who was at his corner during that unfortunate incident in 2017, recalled how Bhoria took that setback in his stride. “He lost his rhythm entirely after that. Others stepped up and went on to do well at the international level. However, he never stopped working hard,” Rana, who was with Bhoria at Bellary, recalled. His hard work paid dividends the very next year as he went on to win gold at the nationals. That also helped him break into the national team. “After that (gold), I have improved gradually,” Bhoria, who is backed by Olympic Gold Quest, noted.
Those gradual improvements that Deepak mentions were visible in his output. Gold at Makran Cup (2019), silver at Asian Championships (2019), silver at Thailand Open (2019) and silver at Standja Memorial — the oldest international boxing competition in Europe — are some of his notable highs before the aforementioned nationals. Moreover, Bhoria had made headlines after shocking 2016 Olympic champ Shakhobidin Zoirov during the latter. “That was a big shot in the arm. I was happy then but I wanted to do even better in the future. I got more hungry after that and I kept working on my skills.”