Lalbiakkima got the opportunity to contest in this tournament as AIBA’s youth world champion Sachin Siwach moved up to the flyweight (52kg) class. In his first meeting with Dusmatov, the young Indian defeated the Uzbekistan pugilist 4-1 to book his berth in the semis.
However, he couldn’t follow-up the high with a win in the last four stage as he lost his bout to Kazakhstan boxer Yerzhan Zhomart, the 2017 World Championships bronze medallist.
“I have watched all his (Dusmatov) videos and it’s was a very special win,” a delighted Lalbiakkima said from Astana. “I used speed along with counter-punches and well-judged guard to keep Hasanboy at bay.”
Lalbiakkima comes from a very modest family. His father is asthmatic and mother takes care of the family by selling fish in the local market. Pro boxing fights are popular among youngsters in Mizoram and Lalbiakkima was exposed to boxing for the first time in one such Pro tournament in 2009.
While he currently trains under 2010 Commonwealth Games gold medallist Suranjoy Singh in Navy Nagar, Mumbai, back in 2015 these ‘pro’ fights were what sustained Lalbiakkima as the Boxing Federation of India was in a limbo then.
In fact, Lalbiakkima had emerged as the 2015 ‘pro’ champion and once the new federation was formed, he competed and won bronze in the 2017 Nationals.
He got selected at the Mizoram Regional Sports Authority Center in 2011. The dream of becoming a well-known boxer took shape as he moved into the hostel in 2012.
“I played the 2017 Senior Nationals in Vishakhapatnam where I won a bronze. My performance was observed by the Santiago Nieva sir (federation’s high performance director) as well as suranjoy Singh sir and then I was called to come and join the trials for Indian team in Patiala. And since that day, I have been working hard and only dreaming to represent India. I am thankful to God and all who have helped me in my journey so far,” an emotional Lalbiakkima said.
With his win over Dustamov, Lalbiakkima has made his claim for a berth for Asian Games, which will take place in Jakarta next month. Competition, however, is too tight in the light flyweight class, with 2018 CWG silver medallist Amit Panghal leading the group. He is followed by reigning national champion Shyam Kumar Kakara. Lalbiakkima lost to Panghal in January’s India Open semis and to Kakara in the Nationals last October. In additions, 21-year-old Himanshu Sharma won the gold at the Belgrade invitational as well.
“Lalbiakkima is currently fourth in the pecking order for Asian Games. He is quite short for his weight category but his speed gives him advantage. I heard he landed a few good left hooks on Hasanboy and was very quick to get into good positions,” Nieva told TOI.
“He is young and needs a lot of international exposure, President’s Cup is his first event outside India. He might be fourth in the order in his weight category but all that can change very soon. He has beaten the reigning Olympic champion. We are keeping an eye on him,” Nieva added.