Bengaluru, April 1: For nearly two years, Myna, a village in Rohtak, was more like a daydream for Amit Panghal. Parents, relatives, friends, the home where he nurtured his ambitions of becoming a boxer, all pushed to the corner of his memory. His world was restricted to the boxing ring, sweaty training halls, carefully charted out menu that largely appeals to body more than the tongue, long flights, occasional stay at a swanky hotel room.
For a 24-year-old village boy all that would been a dream, but somewhere deep in his mind Amit would have hoped to escape from the hecticness that has gripped his life, step back to the unhurried days. Like many of us feel, at times. The 21-day lockdown forced by the Coronavirus outbreak came as a godsend for Amit. He is enjoying the break to the hilt.
"In the last couple of years, my life has been all about competition and training and travelling. Even when I wish to be at home and be with my relatives, it was not possible because of my schedule. Now, this lockdown has come at the right time for me, get some time away from a hectic schedule, regroup, spent some time with my relatives, talk to them," Amit told MyKhel.
And it is childhood regained for Amit in many ways. "These are some of the things I have not been able to do for a while now. I am having my favourite dishes cooked by my mother, something I enjoy more than any other food. I would like to talk to my grandfather, who is over 80 and now I am able to spend some time with him and talk to him. He asks me about my competitions and travelling and he loves to listen to all those stories.
"I sit with him and watch 'Ramayan' and 'Mahabharat' that is now telecasting in Doordarshan. He tells me how it was during the 80s and 90s when nearly a whole village assembled around one TV to watch shows. Then there are other relatives of mine that I have not seen or talked to in some time because of my travelling. It is a feel-good experience to talk to them after a long time and they are also happy that I have qualified for Olympics and winning matches at international level," said Amit.
But being a sportsman, Amit cannot stop training and he needs to use whatever facilities at home and surrounding areas to keep himself in shape. "It is a good thing that I have qualified for Olympics. Now, that the event has been postponed to 2021 we have some more time to prepare, some more time to study about the opponents. After all we are athletes and we need to prepare ourselves in the best way possible for such a big event and any extra bit of time is welcome in that regard. But as a sportsperson, I urge people to stay indoors and take care of their health, follow all the guidelines given to us. It is very important for everyone," he said.
Stay Fit #COVIDー19 #StaySafe #WednesdayMotivation @AjaySingh_SG @BFI_official @Media_SAI @RijijuOffice @FitIndiaOff @boxerapanghal @rajmayna @boxerpooja @Boxernjhajhria @boxersanjeet91 @boxersehrawat @BoxerManojkr @baselineventure @OGQ_India @AdaniFoundation @adgpi @satyam3vedi pic.twitter.com/Y2TLRemsst— Amit Panghal (@Boxerpanghal) April 1, 2020
For the record, Amit had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in the 52 kg category earlier in March defeating Carlo Paalam of Philippines through a 4-1 verdict in the qualifying event. The AIBA had dropped 48 kg, his original category, from the Olympics this time, forcing Amit to compete at a higher weight section - punching above his weight, if you may.
But, sometimes, being away from top level competition and the distance to a big event like Olympics, more than a year in this case, can infuse lethargy in a sportsperson's system. But Amit's focus has not wavered despite the forced break from the game.
"I have not taken my eyes of my goals. I wanted to win a gold at Tokyo and I hope all my preparations will stand me in stead. But there is an equally important dream for me, win a gold at the Boxing World Championship and the next tournament is being staged in India. In 2019, I had won the silver medal (Amit had lost to Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan in the 52 kg category) and now I want to win the gold in front of my home crowd. It will be a special feeling," said Amit.
"I have adjusted my training routines to the requirements of this off season. I have not been doing too much sparring but focus is more on keeping myself in good shape and it also helped me that I coming off a few tournaments recently, so in any case this would have been a phase of transition. All the boxers get schedule from our chief coach Santiago Nieva and I am also following it quite strictly. Training session now generally starts at 8 am and five hours over a day I complete the schedule," he said.
His relatives are also happy to have Amit back at home. "In the last couple of years we have not seen him often. Now, Amit is with us and it is a chance for all of us to see how hard he trains to achieves his goals. We are all proud of him. We know that after a few weeks he will start his normal routine again and he will have to move away from home for better training. But as of now, we are enjoying his company and hopefully, he will bring more glory to India," said Rajnarayan Panghal, Amit's uncle.