Covid-19 surge in Delhi makes World medallist pugilist Gaurav turn to home practice

by IANS |

New Delhi, Jan 9 (IANS) For Delhi-based boxer Gaurav Bidhuri, the recent surge in Covid-19 cases in the city has meant cutting out sparring sessions in stadiums and practising for the upcoming Commonwealth and Asian Games from the safety of his home.

Gaurav, who competes in the 57kg bantamweight division and is ranked No. 11 in the world, is fortunate to have easy access to a boxing club established by his father (he has been training there from the age of 11).

Fitness videos on YouTube are his other training tools, but the World Championships bronze winner is missing sparring with other boxers for the forthcoming selection trials.

"Training at home," Gaurav said in a conversation with IANS, "does affect a boxer's level of preparedness. At home, you do not find good sparring partners. You get them only in stadiums."

Even at the Bidhuri Boxing Club, which his father runs at their village, Madanpur Khadar (South East Delhi), he is the lone pugilist, because others have stopped coming for training in the shadow of Covid.

"Because of Covid we are avoiding coming into contact with people whom we do not know that well. Who knows, they may be in contact with someone who is Covid-positive. I have stopped going to other gyms and training camps for advanced training. I am waiting for Covid to be behind us and then I'll act accordingly," he added.

Does staying at home affect his diet routine, which is essential to help him hold on to his competitive weight. "When we have an upcoming competition, we (boxers) have to control our weight," Gaurav said, adding that his mother helps him keep his caloric intake under control.

Gaurav's natural weight is 60 kilos. One or two months before a competition, he sheds weight to make the grade for his competition category.

In 2017, Gaurav punched his way to a bronze medal at the World Boxing Championships in Hamburg, Germany, becoming only the fourth Indian to win a medal in the competition. He was nominated for the Arjuna Award twice -- in 2018 and 2019 -- and has the distinction of being the first Indian to play for two international teams - one American and another, Italian -- in World Series Boxing.

With his present state of preparations, can he make a serious bid for a place in the Asiad and Commonwealth team, and maybe even return home with a medal?

Gaurav can only answer this question by keeping his fingers crossed.

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