Former boxing champ Suranjoy out to relish second innings as national coach

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Two and a bit years made him a legend. A gold medal at the Asian Championships (after 15 years in 2009), a gold at the Commonwealth Championships and Games, an Asian Games bronze and a host of international medals. What takes a boxer an eternity, M Suranjoy Singh earned it in just two years. He also earned the moniker Chhota Tyson, for his fights and the way his looks resembled the boxing great, Mike Tyson. His career looked destined for more. But fate did play the wrong dice. His mother’s passing away led to severe psychological issues before a career-threatening knee injury in 2011 curtailed one of the shortest but most promising careers of a boxer. He missed out on the 2012 Olympics due to injury and by 2015 retired and joined a coaching course.

Six years later, Suranjoy has got another crack at doing what he loves most — boxing. However, this time it’s not as a player but as a coach. Off the ring, the atavistic ferocity gives way to humility and gentleness. Ever soft-spoken, Suranjoy rued those missed opportunities silently but never let them take control of his life. He turned his attention towards his family and coaching. “I love the ring and we are inseparable,” said Suranjoy, who was named as one of the 14 coaches of the senior team that would attend the national camp in Patiala from Tuesday.

The journey was never easy. “I never knew what hit me after my mother’s death,” he told this daily from Bhiwani, where he is coaching. “It was during my coaching diploma course at NIS Patiala that I realised I was going through severe psychological issues. Back then I did not know. I was down and could not sleep at night. More than the injury, that came later, this almost killed me softly from within. I lost interest. I could not concentrate and all. I have learnt a lot during my course and also during my stint as a coach with various teams in the Navy and Services. I want to give back to the sport this way and hope to live my dream of winning big. During my NIS course, I learnt a lot. I could have avoided the injury. I could have avoided the psychological trauma.” He completed his NIS diploma in 2016.

“Challenges would be there, but I am sure I will be able to cope with it,” he said. “I know the sport and then I have my senior coaches like our services coaches Narendra Rana and MS Dhaka and also CA Kuttappa (who were there when he was training in the national camp as an India player). I had got an offer in 2017 also to be one of the coaches but because of family commitments, I declined. My kids were small then and there was no one to look after them. Now I am in a better position to coach too.”

He has a daughter who is eight years now and a son who is four and they are studying in Mumbai.

“Earlier I worked hard during training while playing. Now, I would be working hard to coach,” said the 35-year-old. “I will not feel out of place because I know all the coaches. But among the boxers, I know some and some I will know. I would have to learn how they train and what kind of games they play. Senior chief coach Rana and Dhaka ‘sahib’ and others who have more experience than me are there. I will learn from them. Dhaka was my coach earlier also.”

Suranjoy still struggles while running because of his injury but manages to spar. “I can’t run much myself but I don’t have any problem while coaching. I can spar and train them like any normal coach. I don’t want to talk about challenges right now because I want to do something for the sport.”

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