Asian championship a perfect platform for Asiad preparation, feels Shiva
Shiva Thapa Asian c'ship silver.

Guwahati: Fresh from a historic sixth medal-winning campaign at the recently-concluded Asian Championship in Amman, Jordan, Assam’s Shiva Thapa is yet to come to terms with the feat, and feels each time he takes the ring at the continental tournament, he comes out with a whole new experience, and a renewed approach to his game as he shifts focus to the Asian Games in 2023, to book his berth for the Paris Games.

Shiva, however, is yet to recover fully from the knee injury that he suffered after two falls during his opening bout but went on to make the summit clash of the 63.5kg category before returning with a silver medal.

This was Thapa’s third silver and sixth medal overall in the competition, which makes him the most successful male pugilist in the championships’ history. His previous two silver medals came in 2017 and 2021. He also clinched the title in the 2013 edition and secured bronze medals in 2015 and 2019.

“I couldn’t believe myself that it was my sixth Asian championship, but each time I appear in the tournament, it has been a new experience. It’s similar to my perspective towards life, every experience that we have in our lives, no matter whatever the outcome is, we must keep moving. I see boxing as a part of my life, not as something that I will skip after achieving a few medals,” Thapa said while citing a quote of boxing legend Muhammed Ali — “Pain is temporary but victory is forever.”

“You may lose 10 bouts but that one win in a big ticket tournament is always crucial and important to keep moving,” he told EastMojo at a felicitation event organised by the Assam Boxing Association here on Thursday.

Almost a fortnight before the Asian championships, the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) hired Bernard Dunne as the Indian team’s new high performance director, and most of the national campers, who took part at the 36th National Games hardly had any time to be supervised by the Irishman.

And Shiva, who had pocketed a bronze in Gujarat, was one of the three Assamese boxers in the Asian Championship squad, along with Lovlina Borgohain (gold) and Ankushita Boro (bronze), to have spent some quality time with Bernard on his first major assignment.

“We hardly had any time after the National Games, and Bernard wanted us to continue with the same approach, and only suggested slight adjustments to our techniques. The best part was he accompanied us to Jordan, and during that phase, he got a feel of how the Indian boxers fared, and what adjustments are needed in their respective techniques,” Shiva said.

Now, with almost a month to go before the senior boxing national championships, starting December 26, Shiva expects to be fit on time, as the tournament carries crucial ranking points for each boxer.

“I fell twice during my first bout and it resulted in a swollen right knee. Thankfully, I had a three-day gap before the next bout and with the help of the team physio, the swelling somehow was controlled and I could get past the next few rounds. In the final (against Uzbekistan’s Abdullaev Ruslan), I was in unbearable pain but went ahead initially before the referees stopped the contest as it was getting difficult for me to continue,” he said.

“There’s almost a month left for the senior national championships, I hope to recover on time before the tournament,” he hoped.

Shiva believes the Asian championship will serve as a precursor to the Asian Games, which is a qualifying event for the Paris Olympics in 2024. 

“It was a good build-up tournament for the Asian Games, and that was the whole plan. Obviously winning and losing are part of the game. Ultimately the focus is on qualification and for that we have to go through the Asian Games. These are the same boxers (from the powerhouses like Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Kazakhstan) who will come to the Asiad, and also expect the addition of the Chinese and North Korean boxers. We have the video recordings of their fights, and that could help us in preparing better,” he reckoned.

Shiva, however, is a bit apprehensive of the upcoming World Tour planned by the AIBA and the IOC-organised tournaments like the Asiad. BFI secretary Hemanta Kalita, later clarified to EastMojo that the global boxing governing body is in talks with the International Olympic Council to sort out the dates and make the proposed Tour a success.

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