The commentators’ job entails building up the event they are speaking about and probably requires the liberal use of hyperboles. But when India’s Naman Tanwar took the ring against Frank Masoe in the quarterfinals of the Men’s 91kg category, there were times when they spent more time speaking about how the 19-year-old could be a potential Olympic medallist than the bout itself.
There is a certain kind of swagger in Tanwar’s overall movement and attitude in the boxing ring that makes him stand out and in the two bouts at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, the boxer from Bhiwani, Haryana, has been winning hearts with his style.
He boasts of the kind of lazy elegance that is not often seen in amateur boxing. And with an open chested boxing style, he lets his opponent get the feeling that they can find an opening to bulldoze him only to scurry for cover when he unleashes the flurry of jabs and uppercuts thanks to his superior reach.
And what makes his performance more commendable is the fact that he is competing in his first major senior event and has already ensured a medal for the country by reaching the semi-finals.
The 2016 AIBA World Youth Championship bronze medallist bronze medallist has represented India in a few international events but his win over the experienced Sumit Sangwan in the Commonwealth Games selection trial was not something many expected.
Big on confidence
But self-confidence is one big forte of the boy, who was initially sent to the boxing ring by his father four years ago as he was stocky and overweight.
“Initially I would bunk boxing classes just like one bunks school. But slowly boxing became a more prominent (part of my life) and I wasn’t really enjoying the studying part,” Tanwar told Doordarshan in an interview before leaving for Gold Coast.
He made an immediate impact in the junior circuit, surprising many with his technique – he employs no orthodox guard, evoking memories of 2008 Beijing Olympics quarter-finalist Akhil Kumar. For a big guy, he is quick on his feet and his footwork allows him to avoid many punches.
The fight against Frank Masoe showed that he has a strong chin too. Put all of that together and you have a solid package that oozes potential.
The 19-year-old admits that he idolises the former Bantamweight fighter but says he wasn’t really aware of Akhil or any other boxer when he started boxing and only later learnt about the similarity in style and technique.
Now, Tanwar has been working with the coaching staff and also studying the technique the bouts of Cuban Light Heavyweight boxer and four time world champion Julio Cesar La Cruz through YouTube videos to make necessary changes to his own game to try and make the jump from a talented player to a champion boxer.
The medal at the Commonwealth Games, where India hasn’t really been a force in the higher weight categories, is a very good start in that direction.