Putting his heart, mind and soul into a sport he loves, this player from Vizag carved a niche for himself in the global rink of boxing.
It was during the school holidays when 11-year-old Shyam Kumar first began to learn boxing. His brother was preparing for boxing nationals, and he would accompany him just for fun. A hobby class turned to passion, and Shyam was soon winning prizes. In 2007, Shyam’s coach sent him to participate at the Open Nationals in Thane. He took the gold and also the title of being the best boxer. This was the start that marked his foray into the national arena of boxing and by 2010 he was appearing and winning titles on the international circuit as well.
From 2012 World Championship at a sub-junior level where he went till quarterfinals, he won the Bronze in 2014 at the Youth World Championship in Bulgaria. He also bagged Gold at the Nationals, marking the first gold in boxing for Andhra Pradesh after 30 years. With a medal tally that includes international golds, silvers and bronze, he is working hard and setting bigger goals.
With all his talent and hard work, the journey hasn’t been an easy one for this boxer. With no sponsors to back him, money has been a hurdle. His father, a mechanic, has however supported him, raising funds through loans, whenever the need has arisen. He also remembers a time when he had almost given up. “My father was unwell and my brother had met with an accident. I decided to quit sports and focus on my family.”
There have been people who have stood as his pillars of strength. These include his father and brother who gave him early training and support, and his mother who motivated him to pursue his passion when he had decided to give it up. His coach I Venkateswara Rao has been supportive too and enrolled him at the Sai Academy for training. Once he won the nationals, he secured a job at the Railways, which enables him to balance work with his training.
Shyam shares that he has been to many cities for training and for competitions. His favourite place for training however, has been his hometown, Vizag. “For outdoor training there’s sand, the climate is nice and everything is perfect”, he feels.
As this 22-year-old trains in Punjab for the upcoming Olympics selections with a coach from Argentina, he looks forth to participate at the Asian Games and other events too. He shares that he hopes to play for the next twenty years at least. “I’d like to participate in the 2020 Olympics as well.” And once he’s had his fill of playing, he wants to set up training facilities and coach young boys. “Andhra has boxers, but they aren’t very strong. In fact, many people are scared of the sport. Those who do take up boxing should do it fearlessly and confidently”, he says as he signs off.
Those who take up boxing should do it fearlessly and confidently.