India is sending its biggest-ever boxing contingent to take the ring at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics starting July 23.
As many as nine Indian boxers, including five men and four women, will look for an improved showing in the quadrennial event after their medal-less campaign at the Rio Olympics in 2016.
While star pugilist Vijender Singh won India’s first-ever medal in boxing at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, MC Mary Kom became the first Indian woman and second overall to clinch bronze in London 2012.
Apart from Mary Kom, India will bank on the likes of Amit Panghal and Vikas Krishan for a podium finish at the Tokyo Olympics.
With just six days to go for the commencement of the Summer Games, we take a look at the medal chances of the nine Indian boxers at Tokyo 2020.
Amit Panghal (52kg category)
In the men’s section, the world number one Amit Panghal will be one of the favourites to win a medal in the flyweight division.
The 25-year-old Haryana boxer heads into the Olympics in great form after he bagged the gold medal in the Boxing World Cup held in Germany last December.
Update from Germany🇩🇪@Boxerpanghal— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) December 19, 2020
wins gold, his opponent has given a walkover.#SatishKumar has picked up an injury from his semi-final bout and has withdrawn from the final match, on doctor's advice. He settles for a Silver Medal#ColoneBoxingWorldCup#boxing #NewsUpdate pic.twitter.com/OtHbxilooh
Furthermore, Panghal became the first Indian boxer to win a silver medal at the Asian Boxing Championships in 2019.
Vikas Krishnan (69kg category)
One of India's biggest boxing stars, Vikas Krishan has qualified for the Olympics for the third time, equalling the record of Vijender Singh.
Hailing from Bhiwani district in Haryana, Krishan had crashed out of the London 2012 Olympics in the pre-quarter-final stage while he lost in the quarter-final of men's middle 75kg category in Rio Olympics.
Interestingly, Krishan is the first Indian male boxer to claim gold medals at both the Asian and Commonwealth Games.
Since Rio 2016, Krishan has come a long way, and he will be one of India’s medal contenders in boxing.
Satish Kumar (91kg category)
Satish Kumar will make his Olympic debut at Tokyo 2020 after becoming the first Indian to qualify for the quadrennial event in the 91kg heavyweight category.
While the Uttar-Pradesh born pugilist has won medals at the Commonwealth and Asian Games, Kumar missed the opportunity to represent the country at Rio Olympics due to an injury. He will look capitalise on this chance by bagging a medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Ashish Kumar (75kg category)
Just like Satish, Ashish Kumar will make his first Olympic appearance at Tokyo 2020. The 26-year-old will be a dark horse in the 75kg middleweight division, a category in which a certain Vijender Singh won a medal at the Beijing Olympics.
In his short career so far, Ashish clinched the silver medal at the Asian Amateur Boxing Championships in 2019.
The Himachal Pradesh-born boxer, who lost his father last year, will look to give a fitting tribute to him by winning a medal at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Manish Kaushik (63kg category)
Another boxer hailing from Haryana, Manish Kaushik, qualified for his maiden Olympics in the men’s 63kg category.
With his boxing abilities, Kaushik had joined the Indian Army five years ago. In 2018, the 25-year-old won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games. A bronze medal followed this at the World Boxing Championships in 2019.
Ahead of the Tokyo Games, Manish won a gold medal in the Boxam International tournament by beating Nikolai Terteryan of Denmark with a split 3-2 verdict in Spain.
Kaushik will aim for a podium finish in his first Olympic appearance in Tokyo.
MC Mary Kom (51kg category)
Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom will be spearheading India's charge in the women’s section at Tokyo 2020.
Mary Kom has claimed eight World Championship medals in her legendary career, including six gold medals, one silver and one bronze.
Having won a bronze medal at the London Olympics in 2012, the veteran boxer will look to fulfil her dream of bagging an Olympic gold.
In her preparation for the Tokyo Olympics, Mary Kom won a silver medal at the Asian Boxing Championships after losing to two-time world champion Nazym Kyzaibay of Kazakhstan in May.
Mary Kom @MangteC reached the final at the ASBC Asian Boxing Championship. How many finals of this tournament does she have in her career?#DubaiBoxing2021 #AIBA #ASBC #boxing @BoxingAsian @BFI_official pic.twitter.com/I9e9CLVAtU— AIBA (@AIBA_Boxing) May 27, 2021
The 38-year-old will be India’s brightest medal prospects in boxing at Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Pooja Rani (75kg category)
Veteran boxer Pooja Rani will make her maiden Olympic appearance in Tokyo.
In great form, Rani heads into Tokyo Olympics, having clinched gold in the recently concluded Asian Boxing Championships held in Dubai.
𝗣𝗨𝗥𝗘 𝗖𝗟𝗔𝗦𝗦 🤩— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) May 30, 2021
Defending champion @BoxerPooja wins 1st 🥇medal for 🇮🇳 at the 2021 ASBC Asian Elite Boxing Championships in Dubai. She defeated 🇺🇿's Mavluda M 5️⃣-0️⃣ in the Finals 🥊#PunchMeinHaiDum#AsianEliteBoxingChampionships#boxing pic.twitter.com/7N57eUdemp
Born in Nimriwali village of Haryana's Bhiwani district, Rani has won two golds, one silver and one bronze in Asian Championship 75kg weight categories. She has also won a bronze medal at the Asian Games in 2014.
Rani will be a strong medal contender in the 75kg category at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Simranjit Kaur (60kg category)
Indian boxer Simranjit Kaur will be a dark horse in the Tokyo Olympics’ 60kg women’s category.
The 26-year-old qualified for her maiden Olympics by clinching silver at the Asian Olympic Qualifiers held in Amman, Jordan in March last year.
The Punjab-born boxer had won a bronze medal for the country at the World Boxing Championships in 2018.
Simranjit also bagged a gold medal at the Ahmet Comert International Boxing Tournament in Turkey. She continued her dominance by winning a gold medal in the 23rd President’s Cup International Boxing Tournament held in Indonesia.
Simranjit Kaur will look to secure a podium finish at the upcoming Summer Games.
Lovlina Borgohain (69kg category)
Lovlina Borgohain, the youngest in India's women's boxing team, will feature in the 69kg category. The 23-year-old created history as she became the first sportswoman from Assam to qualify for the Olympics.
A matter of great joy and pride for us as @LovlinaBorgohai becomes the first woman pugilist from Assam to qualify for the #Olympics.— Himanta Biswa Sarma (@himantabiswa) June 10, 2021
My heartiest Congratulations to you Lovlina. You have our finest wishes for the big moment.
May you continue to shine and succeed. pic.twitter.com/DVqP5EbaI2
Currently ranked third in the 69kg welterweight category, Borgohain has already won two bronze medals at the World Championships.
The young boxer secured the Olympic berth in the 69kg category by defeating Uzbekistan’s Maftunakhon Melieva 5-0 in the 2020 Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament.
Borgohain will be one of the favourites to win a medal in the women's welterweight category.
Featured photo: Twitter/MCMaryKom