Checkmate in the boxing ring

Inside a crowded room – big enough to place a 20x20ft boxing ring hugging the side walls at one corner and another similar space filled with participants, coaches, parents, referees and announcers – He was a chess player who maneuvered to claim boxing gold in the 58-61kg category at the Karnataka Mini Olympics at Sree Kanteerava Stadium on Tuesday.

“Chess in my opinion is the mother of all sports,” said Aryan Surya SA who won several medals for India by winning games on an 8×8 board in the under 8-13 age group year. “Because once you learn to apply your mind, you can play any sport. Boxing is not just about punching your opponent. A good boxer has to use his brain to win a fight,” said the 13-year-old from Bengaluru.

The eighth-grader from Jain Heritage School, whose love for the sport began with karate as a toddler, took a circuitous route, via chess, to boxing gloves.

“We had a punching bag at home. I was always intrigued by this and used to randomly punch and replicate certain boxing moves. My father’s friend who observed this suggested I join a boxing club. That’s how it all started,” he explained.

Aryan, who trains at Chandrashekar Azad boxing club at HMT Layout, beat Rahul of Doddaballapur in convincing fashion to finish on the top step of the podium. Encouraged by his mother Amita, a housewife, and his father Sunil, a builder from Chikmagalur, the former said he realized Aryan’s interest in sports by the time he turned six. “He has our full support. It’s too early to say anything, but we’re excited to see where this interest takes him,” Amita said.

At the two-day boxing event, Aryan said the best part of tournaments such as the Mini Olympics was that he got to meet and interact with players from different parts of the state. “It’s good exposure for so many small town boxers. We can meet and make friends, especially in rural areas,” he said before traveling to Ballari the same evening for the National Sub-Junior Championships.

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