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Sanjeet the Lion shows his class

Sanjeet’s 91kg title win has boosted his confidence

Popular as ‘Sher’ among his peers for wearing a lion’s tattoo on his back, 24-year-old Sanjeet loves his newly-achieved status as an Asian champion following his lionhearted showing in Dubai.

Sanjeet’s 91kg title win, India’s lone gold medal in the men’s section of the Asian championships, has boosted his confidence.

“This is my best performance. I beat two Olympic qualified boxers (Sanjar Tursunov of Uzbekistan 5-0 in the semifinals and Olympics silver medallist Vassiliy Levit of Kazakhstan 4-1 in the final). The win over Levit was sweeter as I had lost to him in the President’s Cup in Kazakhstan in 2018,” Sanjeet told The Hindu on his return from Dubai on Tuesday.

“I have gathered a lot of confidence and feel I could have qualified for the Tokyo Olympics.”

The Asian crown was Sanjeet’s first achievement after a major shoulder injury, which he picked up during the World Military Games in October 2019. It forced him to go under the knife and rendered him unfit for the Asian Olympic qualifier in March last year.

“I am thankful to JSW and Army for their support during my recovery and rehab, which took about five to six months.”

Sanjeet worked hard for the World Olympic qualifier in Paris this year but was heart-broken when he learnt about its cancellation due to the pandemic. His cousin and early coach Sanjeev Kumar says Sanjeet was in tears.

“I could not train for five-six days as I was in a state of shock. Later, I regained my motivation and resumed training,” said Sanjeet, hailing from a big joint family in Rohtak.

Sanjeet said his game improved after he joined the Army in 2015 and participated in the semi-professional league World Series of Boxing (WSB) in 2018.

“I got a lot of facilities, sparring partners and organised training in the Army. The WSB, which had five-round bouts, enhanced my endurance.”

The well-built boxer feels his punches have gathered more power in recent years but his endurance needs some attention. “I have to work on my endurance. I want to do well in the World championships in October,” said Sanjeet.

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