Akash Kumar’s sensational run ended with a bronze medal, after enduring a 5-0 loss against Kazakhstan’s Makhmud Sabyrkhan in the 54kg category.
Indian boxer Akash Kumar’s sensational run at the 2021 AIBA Men’s World Boxing Championships, ended with a bronze medal after he suffered a heartbreaking loss in the semi-final in Belgrade, Serbia on Thursday. Akash endured a 5-0 loss against Kazakhstan’s Makhmud Sabyrkhan in the 54kg category. It was India’s seventh medal at the world’s one of the biggest boxing events as Akash joined the elite list of boxers that includes Amit Panghal (silver in 2019), Vijender Singh (bronze in 2009), Vikas Krishan (bronze in 2011), Shiva Thapa (bronze in 2015), Gaurav Bidhuri (bronze in 2017) and Manish Kaushik (bronze in 2019), who have won medals for the country at the Men’s World Championships in the past.
Playing in his debut World Championships, Akash started the Last-4 bout aggressively as the first round saw both the boxers trading heavy blows. However, the Kazakh boxer looked in better position with relentless punches which put the Indian on the backfoot at the end of a pulsating opening round. The 20-year-old Akash, who was playing his maiden international tournament at elite level, however, tried making a comeback in the second round and showcased some brilliant skills to overcome the fight that Sabyrkhan put up.
The boxer from Bhiwani gave it his all but somehow fell short when it came to matching up with the speed and accuracy, as the southpaw Sabyrkhan capitalised onto the momentum in the final round to complete victory by unanimous decision. With this loss, the Indian challenge came to an end at the 21st edition of the tournament, which witnessed participation of 650 top boxers from more than 100 countries from across the world.
The gold medallists of each category will receive $100,000 while silver and bronze medallists will be given $50,000 and $25,000 respectively. Alongside an enormous prize pool of $2.6 million, AIBA will also award the winners with beautifully designed medals, made of solid gold and silver respectively, and belts to commemorate their accomplishments.
Demonstrating exemplary courage and tactical nous during the right moments, Akash Kumar (54kg) earlier stunned Rio Olympic silver medallist Yoel Finol of Venezuela in the quarter-final to confirm India’s first medal at AIBA Men’s Boxing World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Tuesday. Akash (21), who hails from Bhiwani, started fearlessly and dominated throughout the bout. With nimble footwork, long reach, accurate punching and terrific speed, he counter-attacked relentlessly in the initial rounds. His opponent tried to assert himself in the final round, but Akash stayed out of his range, evaded punches, and moved around the ring confidently.
“Our strategy was to be on an attacking mode to win the first round, and then in the next rounds, the aim was to counter-attack and keep the flurry of punches,” Akash said.
Dedicating the win to his mother, who died before the Championships began, and to his father, who passed away in 2010, he said, “This medal means the world to me. I want to dedicate it to my parents. This is my first big tournament and I am extremely proud and emotional. I want to give absolutely everything to bring home the gold medal. I want to thank all my coaches and support staff who have helped me reach here.”