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India got off to a flying start with reigning Commonwealth Games champion Gaurav Solanki (57kg) and Asian Championships silver medallist Ashish Kumar (75kg) both making a winning start as the Asian/Oceanian Olympic Qualifiers got under way in Amman, Jordan today. While Solanki registered a commanding 5-0 victory over Kyrgyzstan’s national boxing champion Akylbek Esenbek Uulu, Kumar dealt a 5-0 blow on Chinese Taipei’s Kan Chia-Wei.
In a blistering start, Solanki brought his attacking game to rain down jabs and punches from the very beginning. The second round turned out to be more competitive with the Kyrgyz boxer showing more aggression but Solanki's patience helped him sail through that.
The exertion in the second round took a toll on the Kyrgyz pugilist, who looked visibly exhausted towards the end of the bout, where Solanki was declared the winner by points.
Solanki will need to be at his flawless best for he next faces the top seed and world champion Mirazizbek Mirzakhalilov of Uzbekistan, who is also the reigning Asian Games and Asian champion. That bout is scheduled to be held on March 7.
Ashish Kumar was equally impressive in his 75kg opening bout with Chinese Taipei’s Kan Chia-Wei. Showing brilliant attacking intent and superb footwork, the Indian boxer never relented from delivering his punches. Chia-Wei could not put up much of a resistance and lost his stamina in the final round against the sprightly Ashish, who will face the fourth seed Bekzhigit Uulu Omurbek of Kyrgyzstan on Thursday.
“I have played Chia-Wei before but I lost to him previously. Today I made no mistake. It was a clean performance from my side. It has boosted my confidence especially after the good training we’ve had. I next face the fourth seed whom I have beaten before and am confident of putting up a good show,” said Ashish Kumar after his victory.
On Wednesday, the women pugilists will begin their quest. Former World Championships bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur (60kg) will take on Kazakhstan’s Rimma Volossenko while Sakshi (57kg) will face Thailand’s fourth seed and Asian Games bronze medallist Nilawan Techasuep.
8 men and 5 women from India are in the hunt for a coveted Tokyo Olympic berth at this continental event, being conducted by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Boxing Task Force.