Ahead of The Fighter Thailand World Boxing Series on July 2, 2022, The Daily Guardian Review spoke to renowned Indian boxer Neeraj Goyat who holds many records. He became the first Indian boxer to have made it in top 20 to WBC World Rankings, won WBC Asia “Honorary Boxer of the year” in 2017 and has won many matches for India.
Q: So, Neeraj you started boxing in 2006 right, can you tell us how this journey started and what kind of challenges were before you?
A: Yes, the journey of boxing started in 2006 and before that I was very good in basketball and athletic running, I was very good in 800m, 1000m and 1500 meters race. And after that in 2006 I got selected in Army Sports Institute, so boxing was everything over there. After starting boxing, I was the weakest boxer there, weak in the sense that the boxer with the least level of performance was me. So, at that time I decided that I have to be the best within a couple of years. 2006-07 was the struggling period in which I used to do three times training in a day. The coaches used to train twice in the morning and in the evening. During the day I used to go for training before lunch and used to do training on Sundays and went to the boxing hall at night time also.
Q: If we talk about your achievements, you won the title of “India’s most promising boxer” in 2008, you are the first Indian boxer to have made it to WBC World Rankings (Ranked 20), Also you won award of WBC Asia “Honorary Boxer of the year” in 2017 and that’s great; so what would you like to say about these big achievements of your boxing career?
A: If I talk about achievements, then I have achieved a lot in Amateur boxing and professional boxing but there is still a lot left. I got the award of Most Promising Boxer, was a national champion in Amateur boxing, played in competition like Olympic qualifier. After that, I was also the Asian Champion of WBC in professional boxing and I also got the award for that and in view of the same thing, today I have been made the brand ambassador of WBC India. So, these are good achievements but many other things have to be achieved. My goal is to bring India to the world level in professional boxing like people have started knowing Philippines because of Manny Pacquiao. Similarly, India should also get such recognition because of me, and I work hard for that.
Q: Neeraj, who has been your role model; who has inspired you the most?
A: The one who inspires me in boxing and has been my role model is Vasiliy Lomachenko, who is from Ukraine and Olympic champion in 2008 and 2012. And after coming to professional boxing, he also became the World Champion. His style of play is completely different and it is a lot of fun to watch his game. So, I always try to play like him.
Q: When did you play the toughest match of your entire boxing career?
A: Till date the worst match in my entire career or can say that the toughest match that I have played was in Mexico in 2018. The day I reached there, I had a fight in the evening and the weight of that boxer was more than me and it was a challenge for me. There was a six round fight and if I tell you, it was a brutal match. I was winning one sided in that fight but Mexicans are tough, very tough to fight. Most tough professional boxers in the whole world are from Mexico. So, my fight was such that in 5th, 6th round I was winning that fight but whatever punch he was hitting me was just to knockout, and I prayed to God while fighting. Ultimately, I lost that fight by split decision, but if that fight was somewhere else instead of Mexico, I would have won that fight. But it was really tough, his punches were hard. So, the toughest fight of my entire career till date has been the same in Mexico.
Q: Neeraj, I would like to ask that how the 2019 car accident affected your game and what kind of difficulties did you face after that accident?
A: Before my accident in 2019, that year started very well, my fight with Aamir Khan was announced, after that my press tour was going on, all those things were going smoothly but around 26-27 days before the fight I had an accident. Although, nothing much happened in the accident and I had a hairline fracture in my hand due to which it took me 2 months to recover. That was a very bad time for me and after that Corona started in 2020. That fight was to be held again but it could not. So that was a very tough time for me, but all these things and incidents take place in people’s lives, even much bigger than this. And I have fought again even after that accident and have won. So now everything is fine.
Q: How excited are you for the Thailand World Boxing series and what would you like to say about your preparation for the match?
A: I am very excited about this match which is going to be in Bangkok against the Thailand’s boxer Rachata Khaophimai. He has good records in professional boxing so many people are supposed to come for this match and it will be such a great match for me. Currently I am in London and my preparation is going on very well.