Mahesh Sakhalkar of Shishuvan School, Matunga made an impressive debut as he stormed into the final in the U-15 category of the Mumbai Schools Sports Association inter-school boxing championship held at Azad Maidan yesterday. The 14-year-old won his semi-final bout 3-0 against Akash Logavi of Aravind Gandbhir High School (Jogeshwari).
Mahesh Sakhalkar (red) of Shishuvan (Matunga) unleashes a left hand at Akash Logavi of Arvind Gandvir (Jogeshwari) during the U-15 MSSA inter-school boxing semi-final at Azad Maidan yesterday. Pic/Satyajit Desai
Watching Mahesh in the boxing ring one never got the feeling that it was his first ever competitive fight -- he got a bye in the quarter-final after his opponent failed to turn up. In fact, Mahesh previously enjoyed tennis and took to boxing only after freak accident.
"Mahesh was playing football in the garden one day when he fell over and dislocated his right elbow two years ago. Our doctor then advised us not to let him play tennis. Thereafter, Mahesh took to boxing and now wants to pursue it professionally," his mother Minal told MiD DAY ringside yesterday. Mahesh stammers too, but never in the boxing ring.
His coach Rajan Jothady from Shivaji Park Gymkhana's Vir Savarkar Boxing Club said his ward's height was a key factor. "I was not too sure if he would win the bout against Akash, but it's good to see him use his 5 feet 11 height to his advantage," said Rajan.
Mahesh is eyeing the final now. "I was nervous before entering the ring, but having won, now I hope to do well in the final," he said.