Satish Kumar, the first Indian super heavyweight boxer at the Olympics, moved into the quarterfinals with a 4-1 win over Jamaica’s Ricardo Brown on Thursday. Satish now faces Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov, the reigning world and Asian champion, on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Satish — who at 6’2 and 94kg feels slightly undersized for the super heavyweight category dominated by burly heavy-hitters — relies on his deceptive speed to unnerve opponents. The quick jab especially is a rhythm-breaking punch. Against a flat-footed Brown, he utilised the jab freely, landing several straight on the face.
Increasing muscle mass and strength has been key for Satish, who doesn’t believe in experimenting with his diet much.
“I am looking to eat healthy, but I will never resume eating non-vegetarian food,” Satish, who took up eating non-veg for six months in the run-up to the 2014 Incheon Asiad, had told this paper earlier. “I threw up one day and realised it’s not for me. I have built my muscle using natural, vegetarian food and will continue to do so.”
High-performance director Santiago Nieva believes Satish’s jab, as well as his experience, worked for the Indian in his Olympic debut.
“He is used to fighting the big guys,” says Nieva. “There is nothing that he has not seen before. Today was an unknown opponent who was hard-hitting. But Satish has been in the ring with many similar boxers, of much better quality than his opponent today.”
Jalolov, the giant favourite in Tokyo however, could be an insurmountable challenge. The 6’7 southpaw utilises superior reach with inherent stopping power. Nieva believes the way past him is to get inside his range and put pressure.
“He uses his size and reach advantages to his favour. He is a very hard hitter with sound technical skills on the outside,” says Nieva. “So you have to disturb his rhythm, if possible you have to come inside to him. You can’t let him land those hard punches that he throws. Don’t let him go there calmly, loading up on his power punches. Satish knows what work he has to do.”