In the ring you face your opponent just like facing problems in life - Indian boxer Akashdeep Singh
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Boxing in India is still at a ‘growing’ stage where opportunities are limited but the talent is prevalent. The likes of Vijender Singh, Mary Kom, Shiva Thapa, Akhil Kumar and more recently Lovlina Borgohain have played an integral role in the promotion of the sport in India and have inspired generations to come to dream of a career in this field. With more and more sportspersons taking up boxing professionally, the future has never looked brighter than it does today.
In this exclusive interview with SPOGO, professional boxer Akashdeep Singh speaks about his journey so far, getting support and assistance from IPBA, the involvement of Mr. Kamal Mujtaba, overcoming challenges and his future goals.
Q 1) How old were you when you started boxing and what motivated you to take it up professionally?
I started boxing on 7th August 2012, my main motivation was my grandfather who was in the army and he was also a boxer in Nashik. That inspired my father who wanted me to become a boxer. It all started from home, boxing requires a lot of sportsmanship spirit and I wanted to achieve something for myself. In the ring you face your opponent just like facing the problems in life.
Q 2) As a professional boxer, what kind of support and assistance do you expect from IPBA?
The main problem for every athlete is diet, if diet is taken care of then athletes can focus on the other aspects and improve on their performance. If we get nutritional assistance like supplements, it goes a long way in helping a sportsperson grow.
Q 3) How has Mr. Kamal Mujtaba shaped you as a professional boxer?
In the beginning I had no idea how to start professional boxing because it was a new concept for India. I used to ask around for advice but nobody had any answers. When I got in touch with Kamal Mujtaba sir he saw potential in me and motivated me. Even though we are very far apart from each other as I'm in Gurgaon and he is based in Bangalore, he keeps in touch with me via normal calls or video calls to give advice and sometimes even comes to meet me. The best thing about him is that he gives me the assurance to keep going and I always feel his constant support.
Also read: I want all Indian boxers to have the right guidance to succeed in this sport - Boxing coach Mujtaba Kamal
Q 4) What are some of the challenges that you had to face while becoming a professional boxer and How did you overcome them?
There are a lot of training centers in India and they have coaches as well but many coaches don't have proper knowledge, which is the main difficulty for any athlete. In India, a lot of places have an attitude of come, practice for the sake of it and go. There is no care for what the athlete or student wants to do, if he wants to train today or get some counseling. Other problems are diet, personal family problems and financial situations which we have to face and make the most out of our talent at the same time, because there is not that much scope for sportsmen in India. We have to face challenges from all sides and our families also worry about the career path that we have chosen and what will happen. That is why apart from training there are a lot more things that need to be provided to athletes. Getting sponsors is also a big issue for me. Apart from training, competition is also necessary and every place does not have competition because where I come from professional boxing is not well known.
Q 5) Who were some of your boxing idols while growing up and how did they inspire you?
I don’t actually have a boxing idol, I tend to follow everyone and watch their videos online. If I like someone's boxing movement then I try to emulate it as much as I can. I try not to specifically follow someone because everyone has different styles. If I follow a particular individual boxer's style then I will be successful only in the short run, not in the long run. My gameplan is to observe each and every boxer be it female, male or even junior boxers.
Q 6) What are your future goals and ambitions and how do you plan to achieve them?
My main motive is to win a title fight outside India at a good level where I can represent my country internationally. The concept of pro boxing in India is relatively new as it has been introduced two or three years ago but the people aren’t aware of it, the audience who have heard or even seen pro boxing in movies tend to compare it. My motivation is also to raise boxing awareness amongst the Indian audience and most importantly show them proper boxing techniques. All of this is only possible if I can fight internationally and get people to see me.