|By Ronisha Bhattacharrya
It was a heart-break for Akhil Kumar, the Arjuna Awardee and 2006 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, as the boxer could not make it to the selection trials for Olympic qualifiers due to weight issue. With age not on his side, Akhil knows this could probably had been his last chance to power his final punch at the mega event, nevertheless the Rohtak boxer is eying 2014 Asian Games as his route to success.
He also wishes his teammates luck for the London Olympics, hoping they better their performance of Beijing Olympics. Akhil talks to Ronisha Bhattacharyya of Indian Sports News about his academy, his fitness and his passion about the game. EXCERPTS:
ISN: To start with what went wrong with your weight thing which cost you a place in the Olympic qualifiers?
Akhil Kumar: I had a calf muscle injury and hence I couldn’t train harder to reduce my weight. Well I tried my best, but then one cannot rule out an injury. By the time next Olympics comes in 2016, my age won’t back me. But then we have Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2014 and if I perform well there, I might get motivated for the next Olympics. I’m hoping for the best and keeping my fingers crossed.
ISN: You have been one of the precursors in making boxing popular as a sport in India. What do you think the future is like for all the aspirants?
Akhil Kumar: The future of boxing is very bright. Gone are the days when people were glued to just cricket matches. Though people still do see matches and even I do, but we should only learn from them and implement it in our game. As for boxing, it has grown in popularity like never before. Now people do recognise the boxers in public as well. So the future is indeed very bright.
ISN: You play the ‘Open Guarded’ boxing, what is it about?
Akhil Kumar: Oh it is not so different, it’s just a style of fighting and it works good for me. So I use the format. Here I keep both my hands beneath and challenge and play with my opponent psychologically. I counter a lot, (laughs and adds)... actually the truth is I love my game a lot. Rest nothing else matters.
ISN: Your brother Subodh Kumar and you have opened a boxing academy in Rohtak. How is it doing and do you have any plans to open any other club sometime soon?
Akhil Kumar: The club is doing well. It is a decent setup that we have provided. The club is being taken care of primarily by my brother Subodh. However I try and frequent the academy as per my availability. Though I wish I could open an academy in Hissar, but as you know all the funding is done by us. So as of now there isn’t any thought of a new branch. I want to go slow.
ISN: What kind of students come to the academy? What is the new breed like?
Akhil Kumar: See, not everyone who comes is a medal holder and an Olympic aspirant. Some come to stay fit or shed the extra kilos. Some come to learn and enjoy the game. So in general there is a huge awareness about the game and people seem to know what and how things are done.
ISN: Your fellow colleague Vijender Singh is all game for the qualifiers. What do you think of him?
Akhil Kumar: Vijender is a hard working boy. He is looking great and in form. He looks like the best bet for India. I’m very sure he will qualify. He has both the experience and patience. I wish all the Olympic bound boxers good luck.
ISN: Your brother is an ex-boxer and then your wife and your father-in-law are coaches in the sport. So how important do you think is the environment needed for a player at home? Does it work wonders for you?
Akhil Kumar: Yes definitely, it is imperative to have a great environment at home and in my case, all of us talk and discuss about the game. My diet is taken care of and also the techniques of the game.
ISN: So what now? What are you planning to do?
Akhil Kumar: I’m at present at Police Academy in Madhuban and in mood to avail training here till the time I get healed, so in that case I will finish both my work.