“Yeh mazdoor ka haath hai, loha pighlakar uska aakar badal deta hai” – says Arjuna Awardee Mandeep Jangra
A hot blooded, young and dynamic boxer that lives to only leave his best on everything that he does. From a humble background in Haryana to winning the prestigious Arjuna Award for his credibility to putting India ahead in boxing rings across the globe. If his recent stint at the Commonwealth Games is anything to go by, he sure is going to make history and most definitely be remembered for decades to come. The multi-dimensional Mandeep Jangra is all about high spirit and fierce at heart and focused to his career, has a way to look at things that most of us today perhaps lack – the ability to see good in another person and imbibe the good qualities in self.
From playing boxing locally to representing India at the International tournaments, Jangra has come a long way. While not too much is known about his personal life, we decided to talk to the young boxer and find out more about his life and learnings.
|Known As||Mandeep Jangra aka Kartoos|
|Father’s Name||Krishan Kumar|
|Mother’s Name||Smt. Anir Devi|
|imd1 for||Boxing, Sport|
|Place / From:||Kharian, Haryana|
We are keen to know; how did your journey begin?
Oh, it’s been quite a struggle since beginning. The first time I punched someone was in class 8. There were some kids who were bullying others in class and I was watching them from afar. It was a rumor that those boys knew boxing. I thought to myself, that these guys are not good in studying yet they can pursue a sport like boxing. It caught to my attention that what if I could learn boxing myself? So, one day I just went to see about and there somebody taught me how to punch. I ended up coming late to home and when I told where I was, dad lashed at me and locked me in a room. 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 its neither a yes nor a no, let me just continue and I ended up getting a Gold medal at the District Championships. It was a sheer case of coincidence that helped me reach where I am today. Trying my hand in boxing, was by chance rather than choice.
What’s your success mantra?
The only mantra I swear by is, if I decide to do it then I will, come what may. I will give it whatever it takes to thrive on that leverage. “Passion agar ho toh koi chiz mushkil nahi hoti.”
What were the hardships / hurdles your encountered and the way you overcame in your journey?
I have been struggling ever since my decision to become a medalist boxer. It has not been a smooth sail for me. I wanted to learn at the Bhiwani Training Centre, which was and still is touted to be the best for boxing. We are a middle-class family and when I shared my desire to go ahead for training, my parents refrained owing to the financial hurdles it would cost to the family. After lot of convincing, they agreed upon and I was given a mere 500rs per month. Later which on arrival at the center, I found out that 500rs would only mean accommodation and extra 500rs were needed for food supplies.
Not wanting to return home with a disappointment, I decided to stay put to whatever it would take for me to learn boxing at the Bhiwani. I somehow managed to get myself a glass of milk from the nearby dairy every day and a small packet of Parle-G biscuits. I would commence my day with eating the biscuits for breakfast and go on training for the entire day skipping my mid meals and return to have a glass of milk and sleep. Somehow my coaches found out about it and advised me to go back home. When my father found out, he called me and said that though he couldn’t fund my boxing trainings but can fill my empty stomach and intimidated me to return home. But I guess, my destiny was calling me, and I found a support in one of my seniors and he suggested I stay at the academy. It was a store of 4×4 that provided me shelter. So now that I didn’t have to pay for the accommodation, I could utilize the money to buy groceries for myself. From traveling to managing studies along with training, it’s been a heck of ordeals for me. But I did not realize it until I found recognition. That is when I eventually discovered that it was struggling phase. Alas! Nothing makes more sense when you overcome the struggles without looking at them as it.
Success is incomplete without its share of failures. How should one overcome them to move on?
I got an opportunity to get in the army before joining as a boxer. In fact, I had joined the army school in Pune and could stay there for around 3 months. My parents too were beaming with joy that their son could make it into the prestigious army. But, as fate would have it… I succumbed back on rethinking my decision and left that place and went ahead with the plan of pursuing other things in head – which was boxing for me. But after a certain point, I evaluated my decision and realized that it was a bad decision to quit army. That was perhaps, my biggest failure. But then again you can never go back on your decisions.
|Favorite Personalities||Nana Patekar|
|Food I Love||Home cooked meals, Kheer, Gajar Ka halwa|
|Food I Hate||Bitter Gourd|
|Had I not been a Boxer then...||A top ranking officer|
|Like Vacations at||My hometown|
|Favorite Pass time||Playing Squash, spending time and chitchatting with my family|
|Favorite Dialogue||Yeh mazdoor ka haath hai, loha pighlakar uska aakar badal deta hai” from Movie Ghatak|
|Favorite Movies / Series||Bhaag Milkha Bhaag, Paan Singh Tomar|
|Favorite Actor / Actress||Nana Patekar, Gurdas Maan (singer)|
Do you think Boxing and its learning’s can be helpful in life even if one does not want to consider it as a career goal?
Yes, boxing and its techniques are very useful in day to day life. In terms of safety and self-defense, it comes in very handy. Nowadays with the crime rate only going up the graph, it feels secure to rely on someone who can protect you. And that will happen when you train for boxing. So most definitely boxing and its learnings are useful even outside the ring.
Who has been your influencer in this journey & how?
It has always been Akhil Kumar. He has been my mentor and guide ever since I wanted to become a boxer. I owe him everything. If it were not for him to take me into his guidance, I have no clue what would become of me. He is a great human being and boxer and I really look forward to becoming like him.
Which was “that” moment when you considered yourself as “I Am The 1”?
The proud moment for myself was when I received the Arjuna Award. I was on cloud nine and felt as “Yes, I Am The 1.”
Did you get any formal training and how was that journey?
I had begun training at the Sai Sports Academy and later joined Hissar Boxing Academy, this was with the Haryana Sports Association’s recommendation. After that, like I mentioned earlier I was trained at the Bhiwani Training Centre. I left Bhiwani long back in 2008. Training with Akhil sir has been a boon for me and my career. It only gave me an impetus to focus on my goals and achieve more.
Could you reflect on the importance of systematic training in Boxing?
Systematic training has become a part of boxing today. Earlier there was no system for training. All we had to do was bulk up and train as hard as we can to make ends meet and win it. But that would often cause a lot of injuries to boxers. It was so exhaustive! But today, the dynamics of training has changed. As, a lot of importance is given to techniques that physical strength. Diversion of smart playing from putting all your muscle power has been a drive of change. It is a good phase for training in boxing.
What are the pre-coaching essentials e.g. Right age, mindset or any other?
There isn’t any but only passion that leads a person into pursuing a career in boxing. If you are willing to give what it takes to be the best in sport, then you sure will be it. Your passion will pave the path for you. What you choose to walk it with, will decide how far can you go.
How can one select an ideal ‘Guru’ for getting formal training for Boxing?
Ideal guru is the person that inspires you to do better. If I am looking at my coach, he should motivate me to put in a lot of hard work. And that can happen only if he is willing to work hard as I am, that will give me a push to beat the limits and exuberate performance. Fortunately, I have found my guru in Akhil Kumar is so genuine in his work that I aspire to be a boxer like him.
What according to you, can be a scope for improvement in training for Boxing in India?
I have trained in over six different countries, but I can say with assurance that no other sports person is as hardworking as in our country. We have the best of coaches and students to become future sportsman but all we lack is systematic training and knowing the science of boxing or any other sports for that matter. We need to facilitate advancements in the way we train our sport trainees. And things are changing surely, we can tell by the number of medals we’ve been getting for the country since earlier times, things are progressing at a pace.
Your piece of advice to parents and new generation especially when some people are skeptical about career in extra curriculum.
Parents should let their children choose whatever sports they want to play and encourage them. Education is necessary but so is playing sports, for the overall development of the child. it helps teach them discipline, focus determination and strategic planning to achieve more.
Any other thoughts you want to share?
Yes. I would like to request people to stop wasting time on gadgets and rather start wasting time outdoor playing some sport. The least one can do is go out in the open and run or probably go for a swim or do anything that you like. Don’t be afraid to try new things. That is how you will discover your talent and realize your potential. Go try jumping a wall or maybe throw a stone afar to see if you are good at long jump or shot put (Laughs). These little things in life are essential to be happy. These days the youth of the country are wasting so much of their time on mobile phones and social media. We can give so much to this country only if we step out and find our potential as an athlete. If not that then at least we can make the country fitter and healthier.