Grapple The Gloves: Wrestler Bajrang Punia practices boxing as part of his training


Star wrestler Bajrang Punia, who is one of India’s chiefest hopes to earn a medal in the rescheduled 2021 Tokyo Olympics, is leaving no stone unturned to get himself and his country to Olympic glory. Unusual training methods are a part of his method to success.


To improve his agility and body movements, Bajrang has went on to embrace boxing as a training method. His partner in training is Jitender Kinha, who as a silver medalist in the 2020 Asian Wrestling Championships, is not so much of a rookie himself. The two wrestlers are training at the Inspire Institute of Sports (IIS) in Vijayanagar (Bellary district), Karnataka.

Their coach, Ronald Simms, has decided to give them a taste of boxing. About the unusual training method, Bajrang said: “What we are trying to achieve through these boxing sessions is to improve our ability to move quickly with ease, better our hand-eye coordination, strengthen our mental agility and alertness. So far, it has been great to practice with the coach.”

In wrestling, movement plays a crucial role and these boxing lessons will help us a great deal. It is making us push past our limits,” Jitender said. “The IIS is located in a hilly area. So we go for long runs and sprints. The challenge is to keep ourselves in top shape so that whenever any competition takes place, we will be ready to put our best foot forward,” the wrestler explained.

The biggest relief for Bajrang, who has already qualified for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, and Jitender, who is yet to qualify for the mega-event, is that they will be able to meet their coach  Shako Bentinidis again. The Georgian was not warmly welcomed while entering India in the midst of a lockdown and was quarantining at a hotel in Delhi, and again at Vijaynagar. The Georgian shall coach the two wrestlers for the Olympics from next week.

A few days earlier, Bajrang complained about Haryana Government’s lack of execution at the promise of Group A jobs to Gold medalists at Asian and Commonwealth Games. While the silver and bronze medalists has their jobs received, Bajrang and co are still waiting for their promised jobs and are expectedly not happy at the undue wait.

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