36-year-old Beijing Games quarter-finalist boxer insists age won’t be a hindrance as he takes the professional route with Tokyo 2020 in mind
Boxer Akhil Kumar at a city hotel on Tuesday. Pic/Sameer Markande
Thirty six-year-old Akhil Kumar, who will be making his pro boxing debut in the Junior Welterweight 63 kg category in Mumbai on August 5, still harbours hopes of winning an Olympic medal for the country, if given a chance to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Games.
Akhil, who was the poster boy of Indian boxing before Vijender took over the reins with his Beijing Olympics bronze medal, is on the fight card of Battleground Asia, a double title fight headlined by Vijender talking on China's Zulpikar Maimaitiali at the NSCI in Worli on August 5.
Professionals at Olympics
Last year's Rio Olympics saw a number of professional boxers making their Olympics debut, after they were permitted to do so by the International Olympic Committee. However, none of them came close to winning a medal. Akhil however, wants to give it his best in what will inevitably be his last shot at the Games.
"Olympic qualification is a big boost for pro boxers. My wife Poonam and family members supported me when I decided to switch to pro boxing. It's every boxer's dream to win a medal at the Olympics. It's my biggest dream too," Akhil, who missed last year's event in Rio after suffering a ligament tear, told mid-day at a city hotel on Tuesday, on the sidelines of the announcement of the double title clash. Akhil, who will be turning 39 by 2020, feels age should not be a barrier to pursue his Olympic dream. "I don't think age is an issue.
The AIBA (International Boxing Association) would not have allowed boxers up to 40 years to compete in the Games if age was a factor. Everyone has to quit one day, but there's no point quitting without trying. Did anyone ever think that I could beat a world champion at the Olympics," asked Akhil, who upset then reigning champion Sergey Vodopoyanov of Russia to enter the Beijing Olympics quarter-finals in the men's 54 kg category.
Mind over matter
It's mind over matter, insisted the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games gold medal-winning boxer.
"Anything is possible if you have the mindset and desire to achieve. No one can predict what lies in future, but if you go out with a negative attitude, you have done nothing. God-forbid, even if I fail to achieve Olympic success, at least my attempt will motivate the younger generation," he signed off.