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Akhil wins gold, silver for Harpreet and Diwakar

Written by: Staff
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Melbourne, Mar 25 (UNI) Akhil Kumar plundered Bruno Julie of Mauritius to grab the gold in the 54 kg bantamweight category of the boxing competition in the Commonwealth Games on here tonight.

The Bhiwani-born boxer, who turns 25 on Monday, gave himself an early birthday present as he began confidently from the time he entered the ring. He won the fight 20-12, despite some late fightback from his Mauritian opponent.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) President Suresh Kalmadi presented gold to Akhil Kumar.

The other two Indian finalists in the competition, Harpreet Singh (91 kg) and Vijender (69 kg) lost in the finals and they go home back with a silver each.

Earlier two other Indian pugilists -- Varghese Johnson (91+ kg) and Jitender Kumar (51 kg) -- had picked up bronze medals.

India's five medal haul -- one gold, two silver and two bronze -- is their best performance in any Commonwealth Games so far.

The country's only other Games gold in boxing was earned by Mohammed Ali Qamar (48 kg) at Manchester in 2002.

Akhil began in a whirlwind manner today, notching up a 6-0 lead in the very first round. But the Mauritian, taken aback by the Indian's over-aggressive approach, came back in the next and kept the margin down even though Akhil was still leading 11-4 at the midway stage of the bout after two rounds.

In the third round, Akhil took chances with his guard down and induced Julie to attack him and won the round 6-4.

In the final round, Bruno went all out looking for the big punch as he was already 8-17 down. But Akhil, despite keeping an open stance, ensured there was no needless danger, quite obviously an instruction from his coaches in the corner.

Despite finishing 3-4 in the last round, Akhil won the fight overall 20-12 and with it came India's first gold medal from boxing in this edition of the Games.

In the first of the three finals featuring Indians, heavyweight (91 kg) Harpreet Singh, who came through his last three rounds without going the full distance, lost to a painter-turned-boxer, Australian Brad 'Hollywood' Pitt 10-25.

The Australian is so nicknamed because of his famous actor namesake, the Hollywood star. Harpeet had won his first two fights when the referee stopped the contests in the fourth and third rounds before the final bell.

In 69 kg final, Vijender put up a good fight but South African, Bongani Mwelase handled him rather well. In a fight full of action as both boxers went for each other, the Indian kept up with his South African opponent in the first round and the two were going neck-and-neck at 4-4.

But it was in the second round that the African pulled away with a 12-8 card.

With the score 16-12 for Mwelase, the Indian made a valiant attempt in the third round, which was the only round he won at 9-8.

But he ran out of steam in the final round, which the South African took at 9-5 and sealed the triumph at 33-26.

UNI HSB AY RN1611

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