Ignored for the Arjuna award due to an “inadvertent” doping violation in 2012, trailblazing Indian boxing ace Amit Panghal (52kg) said he does not care for personal honours but pleaded for a Dronacharya award for his formative coach Anil Dhankar.
Panghal became the first Indian boxer to claim a silver medal at the just-concluded World Championships in Ekaterinburg, Russia. He is also an Asian Games and Asian Championships gold-medallist.
However, he has not been considered for Arjuna award due to a failed dope test back in 2012, for which he served a one-year ban. The “inadvertent” violation was during the treatment he underwent for chicken pox that year.
“I don’t really care for awards for myself but I would be grateful if Anil Dhankar, my formative coach is considered for the Dronacharya. He has shaped me in my early years and had it not been for him, I would not be the boxer that I am today,” Panghal told PTI.
“I began boxing in 2008 and Dhankar sir has been my rock ever since. Even now, it is Dhankar sir that I go to when I need guidance on any matter. An award for him would be an award for me too. In fact, it will make me happier,” he said.
The 45-year-old Dhankar has never been involved with any of the national teams but was a national level medallist during his time as a boxer. He was thankful to his ward for the affection.
“I have actually known him since 2005. To me, he is family. I have a close relationship with all his family members and he is like my own child. I still remember how skillful he came across despite being so small. He has made me very proud,” he said.
The Boxing Federation of India has vowed to nominate Panghal every year till the time his name is among the winners.
“The BFI insists it will keep nominating me, I am thankful for this consideration. But all I want to do is win medals for India and I am glad I am able to do that wherever I compete,” he said.
“As long as I am winning medals for the country, personal awards do not matter to me,” he added.
The 23-year-old Naib Subedar in the Indian Army has been in the form of his life for the past two years. And even a change in weight category — from 49kg to 52kg – has had little impact on his performances.
By his own admission, he was wary of how things would pan out after the jump but a gold medal at the Asian Championships and the silver at the world showpiece has all but buried any skepticism in his mind.
The next big assignment for him would be the Asian Olympic Qualifying tournament in China next February.
“It is another challenge and I am trying to better myself for it. Power in punches would be crucial and I am working towards it,” he said.