India might not have a significant fan following in boxing. But, the stars are making the headlines for all the right reasons to make the nation proud. The young boxer Nutlai Lalbiakkima outclassed the undisputed Olympic light flyweight (49kg) champion, Hasanboy Dusmatov, to reach the 49kg semifinals of the President’s Cup tourney in Astana, Kazakhstan.
Nutlai Lalbiakkima hails from a village in Mizoram, Siaha, not many people know him because media didn’t promote Mizoram talents. When everyone thought that the 22-year-old Nutlai wouldn’t fancy any chance against Dusmatov, he proved them wrong by displaying stellar heroics in the ring. He might not be a stellar figure before but now the world knows the entity of Nutlai Lalbiakkima.
What really presses the case is that Lalbiakkima showcased his mettle in his first ever international tournament. Beating World No.1 and Rio Olympic gold medalist Hasanboy DusmatovIn was never that easy. He watched Dusmatov’s videos and came up with a perfect gameplan to outsmart the opponent and settled for Bronze.
“I have watched all his (Dusmatov) videos and it’s was a very special win,” Lalbiakkima said from Astana. “I used speed along with counter-punches and well-judged guard to keep Hasanboy at bay.”
The young boxer trains under the 2010 CWG Gold medallist Suranjoy Singh, who is the Chief Coach in Navy. Lalbiakkima credits his success and decisive style of boxing to his idol Suranjoy who was popularly called the ‘Little Tyson’ for his aggressive boxing.
“He wasn’t the most skilful boxer but he was the most hardworking boxer I saw. That is the most important thing for me. You can teach skills but the willingness to work hard needs to be inside a boxer,” said Suranjoy according to the ESPN report.
Lalbiakkima got the chance to compete in this tournament as AIBA’s youth world champion Sachin Siwach moved up to the flyweight (52kg) class. In his first ever head to head match with Dusmatov, the young Indian trounced Dusmatov 4-1 to book his place in the semis.
However, he couldn’t replicae the same tactics in the semis as he lost to Kazakhstan boxer Yerzhan Zhomart who is the 2017 World Championships bronze medallist.
“I played the 2017 Senior Nationals in Vishakhapatnam where I won a bronze. My performance was observed by the Santiago Nieva sir (federation’s high-performance director) as well as Suranjoy Singh sir and then I was called to come and join the trials for the Indian team in Patiala.
And since that day, I have been working hard and only dreaming to represent India. I am thankful to God and all who have helped me in my journey so far,” an emotional Lalbiakkima said as per TOI.
After a sensational win over Dustamov, Lalbiakkima booked his berth for Asian Games, scheduled to take place in Jakarta next month. “Lalbiakkima is currently fourth in the pecking order for Asian Games. He is quite short for his weight category but his speed gives him an advantage. I heard he landed a few good left hooks on Hasanboy and was very quick to get into good positions,” Nieva told TOI.
“He is young and needs a lot of international exposure, President’s Cup is his first event outside India. He might be fourth in the order in his weight category but all that can change very soon. He has beaten the reigning Olympic champion. We are keeping an eye on him,” Nieva added.