Ngathingpei Khayi

You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis

New Kid on the Block

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Make some noise for the new boxing sensation of the nation, Shiva Thapa! Currently he is ranked number 4 in the world bantam weight category. He came into limelight by becoming the youngest pugilist (18 years) to represent India in London Olympics but crashed out in the first round itself. This lad from Assam took the defeat on his stride to turn it into a gold medal, the youngest Indian boxer to win gold in any Asian championship. Knocking down his Jordanian opponent in front of his home crowd sending the message to the world that he is here to stay.

  • When did you realize that you want to be a boxer?

Like any other kid I used to love soccer and was really stirred after watching FIFA World Cup 2002 in which Brazil was my favorites. But football is a team game and I wanted to play an individual sport where I can perform my best and not depend on others. Above that, my father was a Karate coach and a player during his time but he didn’t get any support from his family. So he had a dream to see his son (me) as an Olympic champion. But the thought of playing boxing really came to me when I saw Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis fight for the first time live on HBO. I was inspired by Mike Tyson’s fighting spirit and his quote, ‘When I am in the ring, I want to rip out his heart and show it to him.’

  • Who are the boxers that you admire or you get inspiration from?

My dad has always been my greatest inspiration, though he was not a boxer. He always pushed be further in ups and downs of my life. There are lots of boxers whom I admire, like my favorite Floyd Mayweather – he is the undefeated pound for pound boxer, the Legend – Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. And our own Vijender Singh who has won bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics and is inspiration for many young upcoming Indian boxers.

  • Till now, which one was the toughest match for you and why?

I always take each and every match very seriously, so there is no easy but all toughest. It may be Olympics or any other internationals I believe in one simple rule, ‘The more I sweat in the training, the less I bleed in the ring.’ But my silver medal at the was the turning point of my life, from there I moved on to the senior level. I learn from every win and every defeat in my life. For me every competition is a battle left to win.

  • When you get into the ring what is the first thing that comes into your mind and how to you prepare for a match?

Boxing is one of the toughest sports on earth. So it’s a universal feeling that when you get into the ring you don’t want to be getting punched on the face or knocked out. I do a lot of meditation to keep myself out of pressure, it also motivates me and makes me internally strong to fight against tougher opponents. We do lots of endurance, strength, technical, and speed training and to maintain a balanced diet is also a major part in boxing. I try to skip junk and oily foods as much as I can.

  • By whom you are trained right now and in the past?

Right now I am training in Netaji Subhas National Institute of Sports at Patiala under our Indian chief coach G.S. Sandhu, Cuban coach B.I. Fernandez. I started my boxing in Sports Authority of India, Guwahati and my basic coaches were Amar Deka and Geeta Chanu.

  • According to you what is the best in your fighting style and weakest?

According to my coaches, I am a universal boxer and can adapt any style of boxing. I can play good counter punching, also like playing aggressive boxing. Nobody likes to share their weak points so for my opponents I would like to say that, I got no weak points.

  • What went wrong in your 2012 Olympics outing, country was having high hopes from you and Devendro Singh?

Participating in Olympics was a very big experience. I was targeting for 2016 Rio Olympics, fortunately I was eligible by just crossing 18 yrs 3 months prior to the last qualifying event Asian Olympic Qualifier in Astana where I clinched gold medal and got qualified. I myself had a big expectation of clinching at least a medal but at the end of the day it’s just a fight, somebody got to win. My childhood friend Devendro Singh also performed extremely well and he went on to the quarters. Both of us were new and not familiar with the climate over there. And boxing is all about being physically fit, a single mistake can break you down. They say you can’t win until you don’t lose.

  • Share us your experience of wining gold (56 Kg) at ASBC Asian Confederation Boxing Championship in Amman?

Asian Confederation Boxing Championship was a very big event for me this year. We had our long training camp at Patiala where the coaches, physios and the entire supporting staff worked very hard with the boxers. I won four fights with Kazakhstan, Chinese Taipei, Kyrgyzstan, and the local Jordan boxer. The final was more like fighting with the local supporters more than fighting with the boxer. But what they didn’t know was that I myself took the millions of the Indians in my heart who are cheering for me. I won the fight with a 2-1 decision and won a gold medal. That was a very proud moment for me and I hope surely for the country also.

  • If you can go back to the past, any boxer you want to try out a hand?

If I can go back into the past and fight someone, I want to get back in the London Olympics boxing ring again. And I would love to beat that Mexican boxer so bad that he’ll need a shoehorn to put his hat on.

  • If you were not a boxer, what would you be doing?

I was born to be a boxer, I can’t think of myself other than being a boxer. I am crazy about boxing.

  • What will be your message to be your fans out there?

I love my fans. Their support and blessings means a lot to me, it motivates me to train a bit more than I can, to fight one more round, to win and to achieve. I’m blessed to have such loving fans. I would also like to thank god and my parents whose blessing made me who I am today. This is just the beginning of my journey!

(Published in Mandate Sept ’13, Page No. 114)

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