Sanjeet full of confidence after bravely overcoming setback

A second bicep surgery may have had its effect on his strong left jab, but the adversity has pushed Asian champion Sanjeet to sharpen his right punch ahead of the Birmingham Commonwealth Games this year.

Sanjeet, who had a left bicep surgery in 2019, was heartbroken when the injury recurred during his 92kg quarterfinal bout against eventual silver medallist Aziz Mouhiidine of Italy in the World championships in Belgrade, Serbia, last year. The Army man boxed with excruciating pain before losing with a 4-1 verdict.

“I picked up the injury after a minute into the quarterfinal bout. I knew it was the same tear. My left jab is always good, but I could not execute it. The bicep had turned completely. Coach Santiago (Nieva) said, ‘If you want, you can come out.’ But I said I would complete the bout. I fought with just one hand even though I was in tremendous pain,” Sanjeet told Sportstar.

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“I had pain in my wrist, I had taken a shot of painkiller (before the bout). Maybe it had its contribution in producing the injury. I don’t cry after losing, but that day I cried a lot. I was expecting a medal in the World championships. My experience of the last surgery was not good as I missed out on the Olympics qualifier.”

Family support

During such a testing period, his family provided good support to Sanjeet. “My family always pushed me. My father, brother and coach boosted my confidence. My father was scared, but he was happy when he learnt I could recover. ‘Happy that you can recover and box like before,’ he said.”

‘I did a lot of tests and everything came out normal. I have no idea why the injury reappeared… I have worked a lot on my right punch. There is a lot of improvement.’

Always a big-hearted performer, the 24-year-old Sanjeet worked hard to recover in quick time. “I had my surgery on November 8 and I rejoined the camp in March. When I was not able to use my hands, I did weight training and conditioning, worked on my legs and fitness at the Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS) and improved a lot. With better fitness, my endurance has also improved.

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“There was fear in the back of my mind that I had a surgery but I had the self belief (to do well at the Commonwealth Games trials). Now it is 95 per cent okay. I am consulting a psychologist and it has helped me.”

‘Improvement’

The injury to his left hand made Sanjeet, who looks up to Worlds medallists Amit Panghal and Manish Kaushik for motivation, polish his right punch. “I did a lot of tests and everything came out normal. I have no idea why the injury reappeared… I have worked a lot on my right punch. There is a lot of improvement.”

While his main target is the 2024 Paris Olympics, Sanjeet looks forward to shining in Birmingham. “With about six weeks left, the attention will be on speed work. It will be challenging as there will be several new boxers in my weight but I am confident of winning the gold medal. We are going to Belfast, Ireland, on July 9 or 10 for acclimatisation and training. Other teams are also coming there and it is going to be a good experience before the event,” he said.

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