Manoj only new face in boxing

One of the earlier memories that Manoj Kumar has of boxing is of going to Kaithal with his brother Rajesh Kumar on bicycle from his village Rajound in Haryana where Rajesh would coach youngsters at Kaithal. With no punching bag's free for him Manoj would train with old bicycle tubes hung from walls. On Tuesday, as the Indian boxing team was announced for the Commonwealth Games, the 23- year-old boxer was the surprise addition to a squad that had competed in the Commonwealth Boxing Championship in New Delhi in March early this year.

"My elder brother Rajesh was himself a boxer. He used to coach youngsters at Kaithal to earn some pocket money. Today I am happy that my hard work has paid off," said Manoj. "My father retired from the Army as a soldier after serving in the 1965 and 1971 war and the first thing I did today was to call him," said Manoj, who pipped Balwinder, cousin of Olympic bronze medalist Vijender Singh in the selection process in the 64 Kg category.

A bronze medalist in this year's National Championships, Manoj's first arrived on the national scene when he won a bronze medal at the Asian Boxing Championship in 2007. Manoj then claimed another bronze in the Czech Grand Prix in April, 2009. A quarter-final spot in the Chemistry Cup in Germany, saw Manoj tighten his grip in the 64 kg category. But a slip in form meant that the boxer's hold on the top spot weakened as Balwinder asserted himself.

"The 2009 European tour was also a great learning process for me and I guess that experience will come handy in CWG. The 64 Kg category will see a lot of competition in the CWG and I want to fetch a medal for my country," said Manoj. Apart from Manoj, the team also features Suronjoy Singh, Indian most successful boxer last year with six gold medals in international tournaments along with Beijing bronze medalist Vijender and Beijing quarter-finalist Akhil Kumar.

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