New Delhi: Eight years after he became the
first Indian boxer to win a gold at the Commonwealth Games,
Mohammad Ali Qamar does not even have the video recording of
his bout to relive the memories of the "surprise" that he
delivered not just to the nation but also to himself.
But the memories are still so fresh in his mind that the
30-year-old gets goosebumps whenever he rewinds those moments
from the 2002 Manchester Games.
"I was surprised at what I had achieved, even after eight
years, I can`t believe it actually happened. I get goosebumps
when I think of it. It was out of the blue, a fairytale
because when I left for the Games, I did not even have a medal
on my mind, let alone getting the top one," the former light
fly weight boxer told reporters in an interview.
"I don`t have the recording of my final bout. Wish I
could get it from somewhere. I have tried very hard to get it
but no success. I wonder if somebody can help me, that
recording would mean a world to me," he said.
The diminutive Kolkata citizen, now on the national
selection panel of the Indian Boxing Federation, was a bundle
of nerves all through the Manchester Games.
"Before the semifinal, I saw the recording of my
opponent`s previous bout. This guy had beaten an Australian
boxer, who was literally scurrying for cover in the ring. I
thought, if he can thrash an Australian like that, what chance
do I have?" he recalled.
That opponent was Nigeria`s Taoreed Ajagbe and Qamar said
he was shocked when he took him on in the semis.
"He was not his usual self. I waited for him to attack
but he just kept a distance. Then I thought, I should attack
and it worked. I was baffled but glad that I won in the end,"
"Later, this guy came to me and said that he had seen the
recording of my quarterfinal bout and was intimidated because
I had out-classed my opponent. So, in a way, we were both
scared of each other when we took the ring," he laughed.
The final was a tougher affair as he took on local
favourite Darren Langley in front of a partisan crowd.
"It was electric. Going into the final round of that
bout, I was trailing by four points but I pulled it off and it
was just surreal after that. I was amazed, shocked, I still
don`t have the words to describe," he said.
If the rise was swift, the fall was no less quick for the
man who took to boxing by "default".
"It was during the trials for the Asian Games, which were
just a month after the Commonwealth Games I hurt my nose and
it would bleed every time I fought. I lost in the
quarterfinals of the Asian Games and never really recovered
after that," Qamar said.
"The Commonwealth and the Asian Games are always
scheduled very close to each other and it takes a toll on the
athlete. No one can understand what we go through. I don`t
know if anyone would believe me but I actually turned down an
advertising offer from Hero Honda because I didn`t want to
leave the camp for the Asian Games but it all ended in agony
for me," he said.
Once injured, Qamar struggled and faded into oblivion but
he is happy that the current crop of boxers don`t have to face
similar problems after Vijender Singh`s bronze medal at the
"It`s better now but these guys also have their problems
which cannot be ignored. My times were even more difficult and
when I look back, it hurts like anything.”
"I left the national camp in 2006 and the rest is just
forgettable," said the boxer whose rise and fall can only be
compared to a supernova explosion.