Mumbai, Jun 2 : The controversial quarterfinal loss in the London Olympics still rankles him, but Indian boxer Manoj Kumar insists he has put it behind him and concentrating on future challenges which include the upcoming Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. ”You can see the fight (on video). The last round shows five points in my favour. But what (had) happened to my scores in the first two rounds? They are missing. I feel I had scored more in the first two rounds,” said light welter weight boxer Manoj here referring to the loss to British boxer Tom Stalker.
In London, Manoj fell behind in the first two rounds of his pre-quarter final bout against Stalker, who also won a gold at the 2010 Delhi CWG in another weight class, and then finally lost 16-20 though one of the ring side judges put him ahead in round one. When exiting the ring, Manoj cried “cheating” to express his dismay at the decision.
Today, on being prompted by former India hockey skipper and CEO of NGO Olympic Gold Quest, Viren Rasquinha, Manoj said he, like other boxers, has already forgotten the loss and is looking forward to defending his title in the Glasgow CWG commencing on July 23. ”My preparations are going well. I won the silver in the Euro Ranking tournament in Hungary in February where the competition was good. I am confident of defending my crown in the 64 kg class in the Commonwealth Games,” said the Haryana-lad.
Manoj and light flyweight (49 kg) boxer Devendro Singh, who too has qualified through trials for the CWG, were here for a routine medical check up arranged by OGQ, founded by badminton ace Prakash Padukone and billiards great Geet Sethi. Manoj, who underwent a surgery in his left hand in 2011 and then got another surgery done to his nose in 2012, is wary of the injury threat posed by the decision of the world amateur boxing body AIBA to do away with the head guard now.
“Without head guard, I can’t say (who, among his CWG rivals) is the biggest threat. The main point is to stay away from injury. Whoever stays away from injury will do well. I won gold medal the last time (in Delhi CWG in 2010) and I am confident I will do it again,” he said. Manoj, who won a bronze in the last Asian Championship held at Amman in Jordan, insisted that even without the head guard aggressive boxers like him would continue on the same path in future bouts.
“I am aggressive, Devendro is also aggressive. I got a cut on the back of my head (in Hungary) which I found out only after the bout. We have to play with whatever are the rules (of the game),” said Manoj who was inspired to take up boxing by his brother and personal coach Rajesh Kumar. ”I took up boxing with the aim of winning the gold medal in the Olympic Games and want to do it in 2016 (in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil),” he added.
Devendro, who will make his debut in CWG, said he has learnt quite a lot from his failed campaign at the London Games where he lost in the quarterfinals against eventual bronze medal winner Paddy Barnes of Ireland. ”I am hoping to get the gold. I will get a result in CWG. I have learnt quite a few things in boxing at the London Games after going from junior to senior level (in the world championships of 2011 where he made the quarters),” said the 22-year-old Army Sports Institute boxer from Imphal.
“I am concentrating on defence too. I have realised that when I play (only) aggressively, the mind does not work well. My main target is to qualify for the 2016 Olympics by wining gold or silver in the 2015 World Championships,” said Devendro who picked up a gold in the European ranking invitation event in Hungary this February.