It is the evening after Diwali, and while the rest of his neighborhood is still feeling the effects of the previous day's celebrations, Gaurav Bidhuri is working up a sweat. In the basement of his house in South East Delhi's Madanpur Khadar village, which serves as a makeshift boxing hall, the wiry 19-year-old slams punches into the heavy bag. The national camp in Patiala begins in only a couple of days, and Bidhuri wants to iron out the flaws in his technique.
There are only a few of those.
Rated as one of the upcoming flyweight (52kg) prospects in the country, Bidhuri has just won a silver in his debut Senior Boxing Nationals earlier this month, upsetting National Games gold medalist Sunil Kumar along the way. But while most youngsters would be happy with such a performances, Bidhuri, wondered where he had gone wrong in his final bout which he lost 21-11 against Madan Lal of Services.
"After the finals I wasn't too disappointed. The scoreline may seem lopsided, but I never felt out of the contest. My only goal was to work on my weaknesses. I felt that perhaps I needed to be more busy," says Bidhuri.
Overall though he says his goal was achieved. "Before the tournament, I really wanted to beat Sunil. When I was in the national camp last year, he was the best boxer and so winning against him will give me a lot of confidence," says Bidhuri.
Bidhuri will not be going to the NIS for the first time He had been part of the camp after having won bronze at the National Games. At that point in time he was competing in the 49kg category. At the camp however, his performance dipped. At the trials to select the team for the first Olympic qualifying tournament, he was pipped by Devendro whom he had beaten only a few months before at the National Games.
Still optimistic about making it to the Olympic team, he had tried to compete in the flyweight category in the trials for the second qualifier but was once again beaten by seasoned campaigner Suranjoy Mayengbam.
Feeling he had plenty of room to improve and because he would only serve as a sparring partner in Patiala, Bidhuri signed up with the World Series of Boxing. Although he fought just the one bout, he beat hard hitting Russian Vladimir Nikitin after losing the first two rounds. Bidhuri credits the experience to having improved him as a boxer. "I learned to think in the ring. Even when I was under pressure, I learnt how to keep my strategy and stay cool," he says.new breed of boxer
But while Bidhuri was improving his skills as a boxer, the period he spent away from the national camp gave him a chance to catch up on his studies. Alongside Vikas Krishan, Devendro Singh, Shiva Thapa - Bidhuri's NIS roommate and close friend - and Sumit Sangwan, the ONGC boxer represents the new generation of Indian boxers for whom there exists a life outside the ring.
"It is a thing that is common to most of the younger boxers," says the B.com student of Kirorimal College. "I can't understand how anybody could only talk about boxing the entire time. Boxing is fun and when I box I am very serious but it can't be the only focus of your life. Studies help you become a well rounded person. Being able to think differently can also help you in the ring" he says.
For the moment though studies will have to wait. At Patiala, Bidhuri's goal is clear. He wants to cement his place in the category. Last time around, I wasn't expecting so much because, I had only just moved into the 52 kg category. This time, I have settled into my weight category and am set for the camp," he says