New Delhi: The first time Mandeep Jangra tried his hand in boxing, that too by chance rather than choice, he ended up being thrashed by none other than his own father.
But after Mandeep proved his mettle with a silver medal at the just-concluded Asian Championships, the 20-year-old was pleasantly surprised to find him at the airport to receive him.
"Previously he didn`t even know where I was training, today he came to the airport to receive me," said the soft-spoken Hisar-lad, who bagged the 69kg silver medal at the Asian Championships in Amman, Jordan.
His opponent in the final and eventual gold-medallist, Kazakhstan`s Daniyar Yeleussinov, was declared the event`s best boxer.
Mandeep was in eighth standard when curiosity took him to a neighbourhood boxing arena where somebody taught him how to punch.
"Boxing was never on my mind as a career. I just went to see a bout and there somebody taught me how to punch. I ended up coming late to home and when I told where I was, dad thrashed me and locked me in a room," he recalled.
"Then we struck a deal. He said `do what you feel like but get good marks` and I followed that. Then I went back to boxing, once again my mom complained to dad but this time he did not bash me.
"I thought, since it`s neither a yes nor a no, let me just continue and I ended up getting a gold medal at the district championships," he said.
"It took me one year to convince my parents but I succeeded."
He had the talent but Mandeep said his career took direction only after he came under the aegis of former Commonwealth Games gold-medallist Akhil Kumar.
"I met him in 2004 and started following his style because I found it very attractive. He noticed me and decided to mentor me," said the 20-year-old.
"I had heard his name and he turned out to be a good man too," added the youngster, who has requested Sports Authority of India to allow Akhil to mentor him in the national camp.
"He can curse me when I am doing badly because it shows how much he cares. I always want to remain his protege because he has shaped my career."
Competitive boxing, Mandeep said, also helped him in anger management.
"My temper is bad and boxing helped me channelise this emotion. I could take out the frustration in the ring without causing any damage," he said with a smile.
Mandeep, who got a gold medal in his debut senior international event, said he would head straight to Patiala now and start training for the World Championships in October.