How I Became a Boxer?

How I Became a Boxer?

I grew in rough & tough Meerut. In school, boys were respected for two things: either you were solid in sports or on the wrong side of law. Academic competence meant nothing. I grew up in this culture & could be considered as good in sports.  I joined NDA in 1979 & found the NDA culture respected two things: either you were good in cross-country running or you were a good Boxer. Like my school, NDA did not respect academic competence.  I was average in cross-country & felt that I could learn Boxing. There were other motives also to learn Boxing:

  • There was considerable physical harassment in the Squadron & I often felt that it would be good if I could lay my hands on some seniors in a fair play.
  • My Divisional Officer told me that Tennis (at which I was good) was a game for girls & Boxing was a manly sport.

Overall there were three broad categories of boys who did competitive Boxing at NDA:

  • Those who were known Boxers from RIMC/Sainik/Military School and were good Boxers.
  • Those trying to increase their OLQ marks by displaying courage (generally they were actually low in courage!).
  • Majority were those who could not avoid the sport because of the following reasons:
    • They had Boxed in school & had Boxed in the previous term.
    • They were meeting the criteria (or could be starved to meet the criteria) of being below 48 kg or were a having a weight of around 75 kg (71-75 kg) was the highest weight category being competed in at NDA.

First Day of Boxing Practice

On my first day as a Boxing volunteer two important thing happened. Our Boxing team Captain was from fifth term & had won two Silver Medals in 71-75 kg weight category (my weight). He began to teach us fresh volunteers. He taught me how to take guard. The essence of the guard was that my arms were too tight & I could defend myself well but was in a poor position to hit. My mindset was: Boxing is an offensive sport. I should think about hitting & let my opponent think about defence!

 It took me five minutes to decide that I have nothing to learn from him or others like him & will teach myself. This was an excellent decision.

The other thing which happened was this. I was made to spar with a fifth term guy who I hardly knew. Like me, he was also new. At that time I was keen to hit any senior & I made this guy’s face blue. He never attended Boxing training ever afterwards. I was saddened to learn later that he was the most decent senior in my Squadron. Once I found out this I resolved to always treat Boxing as a sport & not to settle scores.

Second to Fifth Term: Reserve Boxer

Chhotu is a dear friend, course mate from Navy & was a good Boxer from Sainik School Lucknow. He was in Foxtrot Squadron while I was in India Squadron. He was representing his team always & was the Captain of his team in the 6th term. During leave we Boxed at Meerut. He used to beat me up a lot. I was learning from him & others who I sparred with or watched. I also read whatever literature I could lay my hands upon. I was hooked to Boxing. I was not good enough for the team in my second term & in the fourth term I felt that the biased selection system left me out of the team. Anyway I trained with diligence. By my fourth term I could train harder than most Boxers in NDA. Training hard builds confidence. I built strength, endurance and confidence.

Sixth Term: First Competition

By now I was one of the strongest guys of my batch. I had now hung a punching bag in my cabin. I trained extra every night, apart from the evening training. I had my first bout against the Silver medalist of the previous competition. He had lot of confidence & I was expected to be beaten. I have never been intimidated by reputations & I had lot of faith in my strength, if not skills. Jaswal, my opponent totally surprised me. When the bell was struck I just turned in my corner & Jaswal was already there. We normally reach the centre of the ring & start the bout. In this bout I did not have to take even one step & Jaswal began hammering me & I closed down with my guard & took the blows on my arms for quite some time. Then he stopped & I started. Both of us forgot about movement, dodging, guarding and anything else that we had learnt. We just stood & traded blows. Being stronger I out hit him & won.

Second round opponent was a big guy (retired Chief Gen Dalbir’s younger brother). He got over-weight & I got a walk-over. Semi-final with Carriappa I will never forget. He was taller, faster and a better Boxer. He liked to connect with a few punches and kept moving away. I wanted a kind of street fight which he was not willing to engage in. In my desire to make it rough & somehow knockout this guy I got two warnings & was threatened disqualification by the referee. It was a sad loss to a nice guy who hardly even scratched me. It was hardly a bout!

IMA: Fitness I Already had; Now I had Skill To

I continued to train for Boxing after my loss & when I entered IMA I was confident of my skills as well as strength. I was the first volunteer from the NDA guys ( 2nd term) to represent Keren Company. Manu Satti is a big guy. He was a 3rd term (ex-ACC). These were his credentials:

  • Had never lost in ACC in Boxing & had won almost all bouts with knock-outs.
  • Basketball Captain of IMA team.
  • Winner in long jump in athletics at IMA.
  • One of the best goal keepers in Football at IMA.
  • Rated as the best all round sportsman of his batch in ACC & later at IMA too.

To check me out the 3rd term GCs of Keren Company gathered and I was asked to spar with Manu Sir. Manu Sir used to swing big with his right hook. I just had to move my head closer to him to let the punch slip around my neck & hit him with a left cross. Within one minute Manu Sir was floored twice. The seniors were dazed. I had developed a reputation in a matter of minutes!  Manu Sir & I were practically of the same weight. We decided that two weeks before the competition we will decide as to who fights in 67-71 or 71-75 kg weight category. To my surprise I found that I was slightly heavier than him & hence was to fight in 71-75 kg. Manu Sir had deliberately done this. He told me this later. From his Company in ACC was a guy, MR Yadav, who boxed in the 75 kg category & was better than Manu Sir. Like him MR Yadav had never lost & knocked out all opponents. I was also happy to fight in 75 kg because in 71 kg category was Hamilton from Jamaica. I was okay with Indians but not so confident facing a Jamaican!

Manu Sir knocked out Hamilton in the semi-final. I entered the ring against MR Yadav in semi-final with the first aim of avoiding being knocked out. I was extra cautious in the first two rounds & maybe he was leading on points. In the 3rd round I brought all my training to good use ( 200 push-ups & 200 sit-ups every day after dinner for two months, apart from the hardest training in the entire team!). In the 3rd round I knew that he had no more strength left to knock me out. I went for an all- out attack & hammered him. Both Manu Sir & I won the final bouts quite easily. Even today I am known among 70 & 71 Regular Courses as the guy who beat MR Yadav.

As Officer

Post commission, hardly any officer boxes but I continued to do so with the soldiers for 6 years. In this period I went deeper into Boxing as a trainer & learnt a lot of Boxing from several Boxers, including international stars & Arjuna awardees who were team mates in my Army career. Through Boxing I learnt a lot about sports, fitness as well as life.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on whatsapp


  1. You mentioned your 200 push ups, 200 sit ups program that you followed.
    Did you do 200 push ups and 200 sit ups in go(set)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment