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Army Man-Turned-Boxer Neeraj Goyat Aims to be World Champion

The name Neeraj Goyat is not the first that comes to mind when one thinks of pro boxing in India, that spot is truly reserved for Vijender Singh, who has emerged as the poster boy of professional boxing in India.

Arjit Dabas | News18 Sports

Updated:August 11, 2017, 5:22 PM IST
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Army Man-Turned-Boxer Neeraj Goyat Aims to be World Champion
Neeraj Goyat in action in during the Super Boxing League.
The name Neeraj Goyat is not the first that comes to mind when one thinks of pro boxing in India, that spot is truly reserved for Vijender Singh, who has emerged as the poster boy of professional boxing in India.

But Goyat started his journey into pro boxing before Vijender and he remains the only Indian boxer who has fought a 12-round bout. Indian boxing is dominated by amateur boxers who see Olympic medal as the only way of getting the fame, and also a government job. However, it’s a totally different story for Goyat who wanted to be known worldwide – much like his idol Mike Tyson.

“I used to see his (Tyson) videos on Orkut and Youtube, and tried following his movements. I wanted to be known around the world.” Goyat tells News18 after his successful defense of the WBC Asia Welterweight title against Phillippines’ Allan Tanada.

Goyat’s journey too started with the Olympic dream but he was quick to switch to pro boxing after knowing he didn’t make the cut. He was only 24 when he switched to pro boxing, “I was in the 60kg category and when Jai Bhagwan got a chance and qualified for the Olympics, I thought I didn’t have much time. The next Olympics were 4 years away. So I turned pro.”

“When I started there was nothing, no body was there to represent pro boxers. Kamal Mujtaba, who had fought a couple of bouts himself arranged some fights for me outside the country. They used to be one or two bouts in a year,” he says, recollecting his early days in the sport.

Battleground Asia

The thing that motivated the young boxer was the chance to be a known name around the world, “I was in the army, so I took special permission to pursue the sport. I never thought about the future, but what I knew was that pro boxing was known around the world and that people will know me if I perform.”

Goyat didn’t start off well with two draws and two losses, but has since managed to remain unbeaten. He is the Welterweight champion, and going ahead he wants to be number one in the world.

“I will only fight boxers better than me, Tanada was ranked no.6 in the World. I will fight similar boxers who will help me improve my rankings” he says, with some confidence.

The same confidence was shown in his fight, where he used perfect strategy and technique to register a convincing win over Tanada.

Pro boxers aren’t usually allowed to fight in the Olympics, but they had a ray of hope in Rio, when AIBA allowed Pro boxers to compete in the Olympics for the first time in history. Goyat, who got only a month to prepare for the qualifiers missed the spot by a whisker as he won a bronze medal, had it been gold or silver, he would have been a part of the main draw.

But Goyat assures that if given another chance, he will make the most of it.”If they allow pro boxers in 2020 Olympics, then I will certainly go. I want to prepare the track for the youngsters in the future that you can choose pro boxing and still make your country proud,” he says while signing off.
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