| Jitender Kumar
Calcutta: Close on the heels of Anju Bobby George’s historic performance at the world championships came another success, on Monday — this time from young city boxer Mohammed Ali Qamar.
In a departure from his usual strategy of early onslaught, the Ekbalpore lad floored Pakistan’s Noam Karim 40-27 to win the 48kg light flyweight gold in the Commonwealth boxing championships in Kuala Lumpur.
His victory set the pace for India to finish second behind Australia in the meet.
Jitender Kumar followed Qamar to the top-slot in light heavyweight category, while Ramanand went down fighting in the lightweight final.
Akhil Kumar (flyweight), Diwakar Prasad (bantamweight) and V. Johnson (heavyweight) won bronze while Harpal Singh was the lone boxer of the seven-member squad to return medal-less.
Though Qamar admitted that he was confident of beating the Pakistani, he adopted a “safety-first” approach.
“Everybody in the camp was pumping me up to go for the early kill against Karim. But since he was an unknown enemy, I adopted a cautious approach. I finished the first round with a three-point lead. Though I managed to gather a fair amount of my opponent’s style by that time, I also had to fight a battle outside the ring,” Qamar told The Telegraph from Kuala Lumpur on Monday evening.
“The International Amateur Boxing Federation president Anwar Chaudhary of Pakistan was present and everybody in the camp warned me that he might employ some dirty tricks to foil my chance. This prompted me to be more cautious so that my opponent hardly got an opportunity,” Qamar added.
Thus, making a departure from his usual attacking style, the Indian boxer, who won the Arjuna Award this year, was circumspect in the second round as well. But he managed to land a few of his lethal left- punches on Karim and, subsequently, opened up an eight-point lead after the third round.
“When I started the final round, I knew the eight-point lead was too much for Karim to get over. This gave me a sense of relief and I decided to revert to my natural style. The move immediately paid off as I found Karim tiring.
“I also saw the Pakistani official holding his head with both hands,” Qamar, who was surprised by the news of George’s bronze-medal winning jump in Paris, chuckled.
The young pugilist, however, put his gold-winning performance at the Manchester Commonwealth Games ahead of this one.
“In Manchester, I was trailing by five points (against England’s Darren Langley) in the final round. Moreover, no Indian had clinched a gold medal in the Commonwealth Games before. Therefore, that still remains the peak of my boxing,” he said.
Qamar, who dedicated the Kuala Lumpur success to his mother, said the exposure trip to Cuba helped him shape his attacking style with caution. “We need more such trips to sharpen our style,” he maintained, adding his next target would be to book a ticket to Athens.
“My journey to qualify for the Athens Olympic Games will start with the Asian championships in January. Before that, we will be on another exposure trip to either Russia or Uzbekistan,” Qamar said.
Qamar will return to Delhi on Tuesday, en route to the national championship in Bangalore, to be held from September 6 to 13.