Boxing needs more attention than it’s getting: Kavinder Bisht - The Daily Guardian
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Boxing needs more attention than it’s getting: Kavinder Bisht

The 25-year-old boxer, in an interview with The Daily Guardian, talks about his career, the immense growth of boxing in India, its chances in Olympics, and how he is keeping himself fit in the time of Covid-19.

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Boxer Kavinder Singh Bisht in action.

As per International Boxing Association’s ranking, Kavinder Singh Bisht recently climbed to 4th rank in the world. A pugilist of such a fame from Pithoragarh district’s Dharchula is all set for more proud moments. In an interview, the 25-year-old Junior Warrant Officer of Indian Air Force spoke at length about his career and achievements as boxer, and some other key issues. Here are excerpts from the interview:

Q: Currently, you are practising at National Institute of Sports (NIS), Patiala. Since boxing is a contact sport, it should be naturally tough to maintain mandatory distance due to fear of Covid-19. How much has it impacted your daily schedule?

 A: Due to Covid-19, guidelines have been issued for practice without bouts and fights. So, we are not involving our sparring partner. All the training pertains to only fitness, running, and punching bags. Coaches are helping and we are maintaining social distance in vogue.

Q: How safe is NIS Patiala nowadays?

A: It is in a safe state. All the government SOPs regarding the pandemic are strictly followed here. Moreover, all the athletes and coaches are quite aware of the impact of corona.

Q: Where were you when the nationwide lockdown was announced? When did you reach NIS Patiala?

A: At the time of the announcement of lockdown, I was in Dehradun. Later, I moved to the Air Force boxing camp in Bangalore. I remained there for a week. After completing boxing training, I came here to NIS on 4 July. Since then, I am under the wings of Coach Santiago Nieva and C.A. Kuttapa.

Q: How is the training going on amid so many restrictions?

 A: Well, we are working on basics and error corrections. Video lesson is a new method of teaching. I hope that normalcy will return soon.

Q: Only one qualifier is now left for Tokyo. It was scheduled in May but postponed. How are you assessing your chances of it?

A: Well, first I have to get through my Indian mates. Muhammad Hussamuddin, Gaurav Solanki, and Sachin Siwach are also contenders. I hope that I will earn a ticket to Tokyo.

 Q: Boxing is no longer a Bhiwani-Imphal-centric game. What’s your take on the rapid growth of the sport?

A: There are more than one reason for its exponential reach. Job prospects, richer promotional avenues, cash incentives on winning any international tournament, etc are some of the many reasons. Also, people are now starting to believe that sports provide physical fitness and enjoyment throughout life. So besides studies, many parents are now pushing their kids towards sports.

Q: In this time, there are many reasons for gaining weight. How are you maintaining your shape and rhythm?

 A: Due to depleted exercise, it’s tough to maintain the shape but we are going fine. Everyone knows that if you are at home, there are higher chances of gaining weight. At our campus in NIS Patiala, we follow physical activity routine to avoid weight gain. Our nutritionists, dieticians, and team are also keeping a strict vigil.

Q: Now, let’s walk down to memory lane. You fought your best fight against World Champion Kairat Yeraliyev of Kazakhstan in the 2019 Asian Boxing Championship. That QF win catapulted you to the spotlight around the world. How will you recall that moment?

A: You might not believe that before the fight, I did not know that I am going to face World champion. My coach and staff also kept me in dark about the heavy reputation of Kazak pugilist. My coach gave me some tips before the fight. He told me to be aggressive, follow my natural guard up approach, and reach close to him. I followed suit and got the result of my life.

Q: But despite being fancy for Gold, you have to settle for the shocking silver. Any comment?

A: In the semifinal, I bruised heavily. Fight with Mongolian boxer left me with few scabs and a cut over the eye. Despite limitations, I fought with 100% of my potential. The decision of the jury still bemuses me. I believe that I should have been in the middle of the podium. Anyways, that’s what life is all about.

Q: Can you forecast the number of medals Indian boxers could win in Tokyo?

A: All the 9 qualified so far (a record) is in red hot form. Most of them are at respectable world ranking. Naturally, it gives one a psychological advantage. I am expecting the best-ever show from all my mates.

Q: Two unlucky losses in 2 QFs of successive World Cups denied you a sure medal. It must be very hurting?

A: Yes, it is like so near yet so far. I met this ugly fate in 2017 and 2019. Hopefully, in the next edition, I will return with a medal around my neck.

Q: Do you have any suggestions for the improvement of boxing in India?

A: Sometimes I rue that boxing did not receive the attention that it deserves. Media should play a better role in the proliferation of positive inspiring stories related to the game of gloves. I dream of a day when it will be treated at par with Cricket.

Q: You have praised Akhil Kumar on many forums? Please stretch your affection for him.

A: He has been my role model ever since I started punching the bag. I love his technical aspects. He loves guard down method. He introduced the techniques that were ahead of its time. I was adjudged best boxer in the 2014 National Inter-University Boxing Championship. Akhil sir gave me the honors on stage. I am lucky that I am still getting his priceless advice and wishes on a regular frequency. 2 more boxers I would like to mention. The first one is Shiv Thapa. He is one of my best friends. The second, Duryodhan Singh Negi is my roommate on the NIS campus. I am envious of his zeal at the age of 34 years (laughs).

Q: So much negativity is in the air. Any message for people…

A: Always maintain a positive state of mind. Remain confident. Never crush your dream due to some abrupt hiccups. Corona is a phase. It will pass soon. Stay strong, work hard and you will surely achieve your goal.

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Worked hard on my swing yesterday in nets, says Shaheen Afridi

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Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi, who stole the show on Sunday with his brilliant bowling against India in the ongoing T20 World Cup, said he worked hard on polishing his skills in nets before the match.

Shaheen Afridi got the better of Rohit Sharma (0) and KL Rahul (3) and India were reduced to 6/2 in the third over.

The Pakistan pacer revealed that the plan was to pick early wickets and come back in the death overs to scalp some more. “Glad I was able to execute the team plan. The plan was to pick early wickets and then come back in the death and pick wickets again,” Shaheen Afridi told host broadcaster Star Sports after mid-innings.

“I worked hard on my swing yesterday in the nets. It becomes easy for batsmen if it doesn’t. I didn’t mind going for runs in order to pick up wickets,” he added.India skipper Virat Kohli once again showed what it takes to be a big match player as he hit a quality 57 to take India to a respectable 151/7 in the 20 overs against Pakistan.

Shaheen, who dismissed Kohli in the 19th over, said the ball is coming nicely onto the bat and hopefully Pakistan will be able to chase the score easily.

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Babar, Shaheen steal show, Pakistan thrash India by 10 wickets

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Mohammad Rizwan and skipper Babar Azam put on a remarkable show on Sunday as Pakistan thrashed India by 10 wickets in their opening game of the ICC T20 World Cup at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.

Rizwan (79*) and Babar (68*) didn’t give any chance to India bowlers to come on top as the two batsmen dominated the proceedings. Pakistan chased down the target of 152 without losing a wicket as India looked clueless in their opening match Before this game, Pakistan had failed to beat India in the history of the men’s World Cup but the Babar-led side came out with flying colours on Sunday on the back of some sensational performance after Shaheen Shah Afridi’s show with the ball.

Chasing 152, Pakistan got off to a steady start as openers Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam took Pakistan to 35 after five overs. The two batsmen looked in great touch and steered the side to 71/0 after the end of 10 overs. Both Rizwan (79) and Babar (68) not only hit timely boundaries but also made sure they rotate the strike at regular intervals to put pressure on India. Rizwan and Babar continued to pile further pressure as they both smashed respective half-centuries to take Pakistan over the 100-run mark without losing a wicket.

Earlier, put into bat first, India posted 151/7 in their 20 overs on the back of skipper Kohli’s fifty. The India captain once again showed what it takes to be a big match player as he hit a quality 57 to take his side over the 150-run mark.

India got off to the worst start possible as it was once again a left-arm pacer who came in to haunt the Indian top order after Mohammad Amir had rocked the lineup in the 2017 Champions Trophy final.

Suryakumar Yadav then joined Kohli in the middle and the hopes were high from them. Both batters put on a brief 25-run stand for the third wicket, but as soon as the innings started streamlining for India, Hasan Ali dismissed Suryakumar (11), leaving the Men in Blue at 31/3.

Rishabh Pant then came together with Kohli and at the halfway mark, India’s score read 60/3. Pant changed the tempo of India’s innings with two sixes in the 12th over bowled by Hasan Ali and the Men in Blue started to gain some momentum.

However, Pant went for a shot too many and he perished off the bowling of Shadab Khan after playing a knock of 39, reducing India to 84/4 in the 13th over.

Kohli brought up his 29th half-century in the 18th over of the innings and he changed his batting gears upon reaching the landmark. Jadeja departed after scoring 13, and Shaheen once again changed the game as he took the key wicket of skipper Kohli (57).

Brief Scores: India 151/7 (Virat Kohli 57, Rishabh Pant 39; Shaheen Shah Afridi 3-31) vs Pakistan 152/0 (Mohammad Rizwan 79*, Babar Azam 68*; Jasprit Bumrah 0-22)

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EVERYONE IS EXCITED TO PERFORM WELL IN QUALIFIERS, SAYS DHEERAJ SINGH

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Indian U-23 goalkeeper Dheeraj Singh expressed his happiness on being in the U23 camp in Dubai for the forthcoming qualifiers for the AFC U23 Asian Cup.

The U23 camp in Dubai for the forthcoming qualifiers for the AFC U23 Asian Cup comprises 20 players who have been part of Indian Arrows, and a total of 18 players who have been part of the AIFF Academy set-up some time or the other. “Everyone waits to meet their childhood friends once again – don’t they? We have all been friends or brothers for a long. Life is always good when you are surrounded by friends. The exceptional part among us is that there is no rivalry ever between any of us. The new boys have also experienced it,” said Dheeraj.

“Everyone is excited and looking forward to use this opportunity to perform well in the qualifiers. We are having a great environment inside the team. And we have got good new players adding up quality to the team,” he added.

Indian midfielder Princeton Rebello, who wasn’t a part of the U-17 World Cup squad but was part of the Academy system for the U19 National Team, and also the Indian Arrows, stated that he is ‘honoured’ to wear the National colours.

“It feels great to be back with the squad. It’s an honour for me to wear the national colours again. I will give my everything, and everyone is motivated to do well,” said Rebello.

India will play Oman in their first match of the Qualifiers of the AFC U23 Asian Cup on October 24 which will be followed by matches against UAE and Kyrgyz Republic respectively.

The U23 camp in Dubai for the forthcoming qualifiers for the AFC U23 Asian Cup comprises 20 players who have been part of Indian Arrows.

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My dream was always to do something like Ayrton Senna, says F1 champion Louis Hamilton

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Seven times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton has revealed that he always dreamt of featuring in Formula One and wanted to replicate former Brazilian racing driver Ayrton Senna’s feat.

Hamilton, who has 100 race wins to his name, said to have seven titles under his belt is “crazy” as he didn’t think of achieving the milestone when he started racing. “My dream was always to get to Formula One, to do something like Ayrton Senna — he had three world titles. And then to see myself match him at one point, and then go beyond that,” CNN quoted Hamilton as saying.

“To think that I’m here today, where most people don’t even get one championship and to have seven is very, very crazy still,” he added.

The Formula One world champion, who is eyeing the eighth title when he takes on the field in United States Grand Prix, said he competes in every tournament as if it was his first.

“But every year when I come back, it’s like a reset. Like, I’m not a champion. I have no titles. I’m going for the first,” said Hamilton.

“That’s kind of my mentality. But an eighth? I don’t know. I never really say,” he added.

Hamilton competes in Formula One for Mercedes. In July this year, Hamilton had signed a two-year contract extension with Mercedes.

The deal will keep him in F1 with the Silver Arrows until at least the end of 2023.

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INDIA, ENGLAND TO CONCLUDE TEST SERIES NEXT YEAR

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The fifth match of the Test Series between India and England’s men’s teams has been rescheduled and will now take place in July 2022.

The match, which was supposed to take place last month at Emirates Old Trafford, was called off when India were unable to field a team due to fears of a further increase in the number of COVID-19 cases inside the camp.

With India leading the series 2-1, the concluding fifth match will now take place from July 1, 2022, at Edgbaston, following an agreement between the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) and the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI)Last month, Indian physio Yogesh Parmar had contracted COVID-19 ahead of the fifth Test against England.

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T20 WC: Top order key for both sides in Sunday’s India vs Pakistan clash

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In the T20 World Cup opening match of the second group between India and Pakistan, a big responsibility will be on the top order of both the teams, whose top order went is a 75 percent guarantee to win the match.

India’s top order will be headed by Rohit Sharma, KL Rahul, Virat Kohli and Surya Kumar Yadav while Pakistan’s top order will be led by Babar Azam, Mohammad Rizwan, Fakhr Zaman and Mohammad Hafeez.

If we look at the performance of the last ten matches, Pakistan’s top order has scored a lot of runs, while the Indian top order has improved their strike rate tremendously in this format. Looking at the performance of the last ten matches, Rohit Sharma`s SR is around 150 and Virat Kohli`s 145 while Surya Kumar Yadav’s SR has reached around 170. Although there is also a truth that Surya has played only four matches against England and Sri Lanka, in which he did not get a chance to bat on one occasion.

Rohit also played two 60 plus innings against NZ, while England and Australia batsmen have not been able to get out Virat Kohli in three out of four innings. KL Rahul is the only player in the top order who has the lowest average and strike rate in these ten matches. The big reason for this is his miserably failure against England.

On the other hand, Mohammad Rizwan has been the highest run-scorer in both the teams while Babar Azam has been second in this order but both of them have a much lower strike rate than Virat and Rohit. This should not at all mean that these players do not have the ability to improve the strike rate. Who can forget Babar Azam’s innings against South Africa in Centurion when Babar scored a century with a strike rate of over 200.

Similarly, his innings in Nottingham was an example of a good strike rate. Similarly, Rizwan was also successful in bringing his strike rate around 155 in both these innings. If not, many runs have been scored with the bat of Fakhr Zaman, then he has left all the players of his team behind in these ten matches in terms of strike rate. Be it his 8-ball 26 in Nottingham or his 34-ball 60 in Centurion. He has really done his team balle-balle.

Talking about Mohammad Hafeez, he has disappointed in these ten matches. In batting average as well as in strike rate. Fortunately, he has proved to be a very economical bowler in the bowling.

Obviously, looking at the T20 format, Team India’s top order is more effective due to their better strike rate.

The much-awaited high-octane clash between India and Pakistan in the upcoming T20 World Cup will take place on October 24 (Sunday) in Dubai. Pakistan has not defeated India in a World Cup match across both ODIs and T20Is.

In Group 2, India will then face New Zealand and Afghanistan, the emerging force in T20 cricket, plus the winners of Group B and runners-up from Group A.

The ICC men’s T20 World Cup 2021 in UAE and Oman got underway on Sunday and the final will be played in Dubai on November 14.

Pakistan’s top order has scored a lot of runs, while the Indian top order has improved their strike rate tremendously in this format. Looking at the performance of the last ten matches.

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