Devendro glorious in defeat, gifts India hope for another day and fight
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On the morning after his 23-18 loss to Irishman Paddy Barnes, India's punching motor pump Devendro Singh was occupied by a few niggles and a bout of confusion.
"I thought I was 3-4 punches ahead at the end of the first round. Par wo toh ulta hi ho gaya!" he said of the round that he lost 5-7.
Boxing was India's big hope, and with none of the seven boxers winning a medal, the mood in the camp was grim and bitter. Several times at these Games the contingent has felt done in by the referee and judges, and Devendro — simultaneously heartbroken and apologetic — complained about his opponent getting away unfairly.
"In the second round he (Barnes) completely managed to dictate terms," Devendro said. "He'd hold the hand, and bend down and block the waist, very obvious fouls which were not given," said the
20-year-old of the Irish boxer's persistent defensive tactic that appeared to lie somewhere between a wrestler's move and a rugby player's scrum-push manoeuvre.
Barnes got a very long rope from the referee, while he, Devendro said, was picked on for his only indiscretion, a headbutt for which he was docked points in the second round.
And yet, despite the gloom over so many near-misses, the brightest spot for India too shone through in this, last, bout. There was no one in the ExCeL arena here — the Irish corner not excluded — who was not impressed by the young Manipuri's seemingly boundless energy and lightning hands.
As the light-flyweight walked away from the ring muttering "sab paani ho gaya, sab paani ho gaya", the crowd which had overwhelmingly backed his opponent was spontaneous in its applause, the Irish coaches were free with their words of encouragement, and Barnes himself put a hand on his shoulder.
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