Star Indian pugilist Amit Panghal wrote his name in history books by becoming the first Indian male boxer to reach the finals at the World Boxing Championships. Panghal, who had won the gold medal at the 2018 Asian Games, beat Kazakhstan’s Saken Bibossinov in a closely fought semi-final bout of the 52 kg Flyweight category. He won the bout on points 3-2. He will take on Uzbekistan’s Shakhobidin Zoirov on Saturday. Zoirov defeated Frenchman Billal Bennama in his semifinal showdown.
Panghal’s rise has been nothing short of spectacular in Indian boxing ever since he claimed a 49kg category bronze in the 2017 Asian Championships.
He was a quarterfinalist at the world championship on debut in the same year, went on to win consecutive gold medals at the prestigious Strandja Memorial in Bulgaria, before becoming the Asian Games champion in 2018.
This year, he already has the Asian Championships gold to his credit after moving to the 52kg category following the dropping of 49kg from the Olympic roster to accommodate more women’s divisions in the 2020 Tokyo Games.
India had never won more than one bronze medal in a single edition of the world championships but Panghal and Manish Kaushik (63kg) changed that by making the semifinals. The past Indian medal-winners at the world meet are Vijender Singh (2009), Vikas Krishan (2011), Shiva Thapa (2015) and Gaurav Bidhuri (2017).
Manish Kaushik, the other Indian boxer in the semi-final, went down 0-5 to top seeded Andy Gomez Cruz of Cuba to settle for a bronze medal in the 63 kg category. India now have a total of six medals, 5 out of which are bronze. It is now on Amit Panghal to try and win India’s maiden yellow metal at the Championships.