The ’steel’ behind Bhiwani boxers!

August 18th, 2008 - 6:45 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhiwani (Haryana), Aug 18 (IANS) The steely grit being shown by three Indian boxers who hail from this dusty Haryana town, at the Beijing Olympics has something to do with the world’s biggest steel tycoon and billionaire Lakshmi Narayan Mittal.The London-based steel magnate has been supporting diehard boxers from this town, known more for the Birla textile factory and being home to former Haryana chief minister Bansi Lal.

“There has been immense help from Lakshmi Narayan Mittal to boost the morale of boxers at SAI (Sports Authority of India) hostel in Bhiwani. In fact, when Akhil (Kumar) injured his wrist, Mittal sent him abroad for surgery. His help is a motivation for the budding boxers from the region,” stated Surinder Kumar, a senior boxer from here and elder brother of Olympian boxer Jitender Kumar.

Akhil Kumar, 27, underwent corrective wrist injury only last year August in South Africa, all thanks to Mittal, and he wants a gold medal dangling down his neck when he returns home.

Mittal has been nurturing boxing talent from Bhiwani even as others gave no chance to boxers from here, Surinder pointed out.

Few Indian sportspersons exuded the kind of confidence the Bhiwani boxers exhibited before the Olympics. The exuberant Akhil Kumar, Vijender Kumar, and Jitender Kumar continue to psyche themselves before and after every bout in Beijing with their brave talk. The refrain is they want gold, nothing less. All three of them are a bout away from a medal, unprecedented in Indian sport.

While Akhil Kumar’s family members have been seeking divine blessings at their home in nearby Rohtak town, the family of Jitender Kumar, 21, who has been at the SAI hostel here for the last eight years, are sure of a boxing medal at Beijing.

“We believe that history will be created at Beijing in the coming days and all of us are very optimistic and expecting a medal from Jitender as he has really worked hard. He has a sole aim of achieving big in boxing in his life and is devoted to it for the last eight years,” Surinder told IANS.

Jitender’s family resides in Devsar Dham village in Bhiwani district of southwest Haryana. His parents and other family members daily visit different temples to pray for all three boxers from Bhiwani.

Incidentally, Jitender’s role model is Akhil himself.

“His role model is Akhil, from whom he is learning for the last nine years. He is so dedicated towards learning from Akhil that you will find everything in Jitender quite similar to his coach Akhil. His style of hitting, defence and even his way of speaking resembles Akhil,” said Surinder.

“Jitender was very sharp in his studies but after seeing his extraordinary talent and interest in boxing, we decided to send him to SAI hostel,” his brother said.

In Rohtak, there is a festival-like atmosphere and prayers are on at the house of Akhil. Everyone is praying for his victory and a medal.

“Everyone is busy in praying to goddess Durga. Akhil’s father and mother have decided that they will not talk to anyone till Akhil’s bout,” Subodh, a close family friend of Akhil’s family told IANS.

“We had talked to Akhil yesterday (Sunday), he is confident of putting up his best show. Now we will not call him before his match as it might divert his attention. Relatives and family friends have started pouring in and the whole locality is enthusiastic about today’s match,” Subodh said.

“Akhil is an aggressive player and believes in attacking his opponent. Akhil is very dedicated to boxing, he came to the SAI hostel in Bhiwani in 1998 and joined the railways in 2000 and has religiously attended all the camps organised by SAI till date,” Subodh pointed out.

Apart from training and being coached by Jagdish Singh, Akhil Kumar is popular among budding boxers in this town as he coaches them also.

Akhil is also known for financially helping budding boxers even though he himself comes from a humble background. His father, Sribhagwan, is a constable with the Haryana police posted in Rohtak town.

About Bhiwani, Subodh, who himself is a senior boxing player said, “We can name Bhiwani as a sports city of India. It has not only produced good boxers but has also produced many athletes and volleyball players of international stature. Every youngster here possesses a passion for sports.”

The success of the boxing trio at Beijing could certainly make admission to the boxing coaching centres here all the more difficult.

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