It’s been learned that the country’s boxing contingent will have five names in the coaching support staff – Boxing Federation of India’s (BFI) high-performance director Santiago Nieva, women’s chief foreign coach Rafael Bergamasco, chief men’s national coach CA Kuttappa, chief women’s coach Ali Qamar and the women’s boxing team’s physiotherapist Aayush Yekhande. A total of nine Indian boxers have qualified for Tokyo: Mary Kom-51kg, Pooja Rani-75kg, Simranjit Kaur-60kg, Lovlina Borgohain-69kg, Phangal-52kg, Manish Kaushik-63kg, Vikas Krishan-69kg, Ashish Kumar-75kg and Satish Kumar-91kg.
The snub prompted Panghal to take to his official Twitter handle and write a post tagging Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief of Defence Staff, General Bipin Rawat. “Respected PM Narendra Modi ji and CDS General Bipin Rawat, thanks for your warm wishes. I’ll give my all to win a medal at the Olympics. I was assured that my coach and physio will accompany me to Tokyo but I might have to leave without them (translated from Hindi),” tweeted Panghal.
आदरणीय प्रधानमंत्री नरेंद्र मोदी जी एवं आदरणीय चीफ ऑफ डिफेंस स्टाफ जनरल बिपिन रावत जी,आपकी शुभकामनाएं के लिए धन्यवा… https://t.co/Lpo4L8WHcf
— Amit Panghal (@Boxerpanghal) 1625667453000
It’s been learned that Manish had also demanded for his coach Jai Singh Patil to accompany him to Tokyo and had put in a request in this regard with the BFI and Sports Authority of India (SAI) before leaving for Assisi, Italy for the three-week long training exposure trip. But his demand has also not been accepted as Patil’s name, too, is missing from the contingent list. Patil had played a key role in Manish getting back on his feet after suffering a right bicep injury during the Olympics qualifiers in Jordan in March last year.
In the case of Panghal, the 25-year-old boxer from Haryana’s Rohtak has repeatedly insisted that his childhood coach Dhankar be allowed to accompany him to the Tokyo Games. Panghal has been vocal in his demand, often complaining about the BFI and Indian coaches’ decision to not allow Dhankar travel with him during international tournaments.
After returning from Dubai following his participation in the Asian boxing championships, where he had lost to Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov in the high-octane 52kg summit clash, Panghal had told this correspondent: “Had he (Dhankar) been there in Dubai, who knows I would have returned with a gold. The only thing which can cost me my gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics will be the absence of my coach. I want him in my corner during the Olympics at any cost. I am confident of defeating Zoirov with Dhankar guiding me during tournaments. He has known me since childhood and I am comfortable training under him. It was because of him that my endurance level has improved and I can fight with the same intensity and aggressiveness till the third round. If the BFI won’t name him for Tokyo, I’ll approach the sports ministry and the SAI to get his name included.”
Panghal had travelled with the team to three international meets this year to Spain (Boxam tournament), Russia (Governor’s Cup) and Dubai (Asian meet) without Dhankar by his side. “I sorely felt his absence during the Asian meet. I missed him in my corner during all three of my bouts. Look, at the national camp, I was coached by Santiago Nieva, C A Kuttappa, Jai Singh Patil and Dhankar. I have learned the art of boxing from everyone. It’s just during international tournaments that I want Dhankar to accompany me and guide me through my bouts,” he added.