Friday , September 17 2021

Satish Kumar on fighting Olympic QF with 13 stitches: Wife told me to withdraw but I wanted to fight

India's Satish Kumar, left, punches Uzbekistan's Bakhodir Jalolov
Image Source : AP

India’s Satish Kumar, left, punches Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov 

It’s rare for a sportsperson to find the biggest moment of his career in defeat. Indian boxer Satish Kumar is living that in Tokyo Olympics right now after turning up against a world champion with 13 stitches on his face and standing his ground through a gruelling showdown.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing, people are congratulating me as if I won. I am on medication right now but I know how badly bruised my face is,” the 32-year-old Army man laughed in an interview to PTI, his voice clearly a bit groggy from the effects of the pain-killing medication.

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Satish sustained two deep cuts — on his forehead and chin — during the pre-quarterfinals but decided to fight his next bout against Uzbek superstar Bakhodir Jalolov nonetheless.

“My chin has seven stitches and my forehead has another six. Par marta kya na karta, I knew I wanted to fight. Otherwise I would have lived with that regret of what if. Now I can be at peace and also probably a little content with myself that I gave my best,” he said.

“My wife had told me not to fight. My father also said that it is too much to watch me fight like this. That’s not unexpected, family can’t see you hurt. But then they understood that I wanted to do this,” said the father of two school-going children.

Were his children watching the bout on Sunday?

“Yes they were, I have a son and a daughter (one in class I and other in class II) and they were both watching. I hope they felt proud,” he said.

He is a two-time Asian Games bronze-medallist, a Commonwealth Games silver-medallist, a multiple time national champion and the first super heavyweight from India to qualify for the Olympics from India but Satish’s big moment in spotlight was Sunday morning in a loss.

“Jalolov came up to me after the bout and said ‘good bout’. He knew I had stood my ground, it felt nice to be acknowledged like that. Then my coaches also told me how proud they are of me, that nobody expected me to go this far,” the man from Bulandshahr said.

“But that’s Olympics I guess, surprises everywhere. I am also a surprise package only without a medal,” he added with a hearty laugh.

During this interview he also recalled a conversation with PTI four years ago in which he had jokingly asked about heavyweight boxers like him not being in the “opening paras of your stories”.

He certainly got that at the Olympics even though a medal would have added to the joy. “Chalo, aaj to pehle paragraph mein likhenge mera naam. I got a lot of confidence from this bout, that yes I can be upto it as well. I wish I wasn’t this badly bruised. I would have done better,” he said.

The Indian men’s boxing team’s Olympic campaign has been somewhat underwhelming with only Satish making the last eight among the five who qualified. But the veteran of the group offered his support to those who lost early.

“We all got such difficult draws. Not one of us got a draw which could be called relatively easy. Nobody wants to lose, but what to do, it happens in sport. I am sure all of us would be back stronger,” he said.

The former kabaddi player, who got into boxing on the insistence of Army coaches, said he would not hesitate to take the ring with such cuts even in future. “That’s the whole idea of being a sportsperson. You don’t give up, you never give up,” he said. 

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