Amit Panghal didn’t believe in destiny until the setback at Tokyo Olympics and the subsequent struggles. As he waded through the challenging phase, the boxer realised that he would need a bit of “kismat”, besides his incredible skills, to land a medal at Paris Games.

“After Tokyo Olympics I have started believing in kismat,” Panghal told PTI on Wednesday.

He once stood at the pinnacle of his sport with gold medals at the Asian Games and Asian Championships and a historic silver at the World Championships, the only Indian male boxer to achieve the feat.

His stellar run had propelled him to the World No. 1 spot in his weight class and made him a strong medal prospect.

However, his journey took a dramatic turn. Not only did Panghal’s Olympic dreams lay shattered following a pre-quarterfinal exit, he lost his spot in the national team on the basis of BFI’s evaluation system, which was drafted by then High Performance Director Bernard Dunne.

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The repeated snubs severely dented his confidence and made him question his abilities.

“Jo humare foreign coaches unka muh dekh kar toh nahi lag raha tha mere samay aayega par kismat mei hota hai toh sabko milta hai (Looking at our coaches’ faces, I did not feel that my time would come. But you get what is written in your destiny).” Panghal said.

His coach Anil Dhankar played an important role in motivating him during the challenging phase.

“Acha toh kya hi lagega uss time. Jab aapko khelna hain aur khelne hi nahi diya jaa rah hai. (How would you feel fine when you want to play and you arent’ being allowed to do so).” But his time did come. After Deepak Bhoria failed to secure a quota in 51kg after two attempts, Panghal was selected for the final qualifying event.

It was his first and only chance to qualify for the Olympics, and he did that with aplomb. In Paris, he will be eager to exorcise the ghosts of a disappointing Tokyo Games.

“Feeling quite good,” Panghal said half-heartedly when asked how was the feeling.

After a tough few years the reticent southpaw, who has won medals in the all big-ticket events barring the Olympics, has become a staunch believer in “kismat”.

“There was no pressure of going into the qualifiers. I was a little scared in the beginning because it was a big tournament.

“I was also scared that a head butt doesn’t happen. Whenever I go to play after a long time I am scared that it will happen. It was also the last shot to win a quota.” Having rarely competed in international events in last three years, Panghal had to work on a lot of aspects, given that he got to know about his selection barely a month before the event.

“I worked on everything. I worked on rest, the rest between bouts. And on endurance, because I had not gone to competitions in a while. I was only training and power and strength doesn’t come only in training, and you have to compete as well.

“I got to know less than one month before the tournament that I have been selected to play. I did not know if I’d be able to go. I used to be involved in training.” Panghal and Nishant Dev (71kg) are the only two Indian male boxers who have made the cut for the Paris Olympics.