Blog By: Kavitha Iyer.
‘‘Father had to sell his shop for my training”- Shiva Thapa
A karate and taekwondo student who used to dabble in football, gymnastics and athletics in school, boxer Shiva Thapa fell in love with the sport when he saw Mike Tyson fighting on TV, and made his dad explain boxing to him. Fascinated, he started training at a small club in Guwahati, much to his mother’s dismay, who shuddered at the injuries he came home with.
“When I first came home, bleeding from the nose because of a punch I had taken in the fight, my mom freaked out and asked me to focus on my studies and not make boxing my career. But, my dad was supportive as he himself used to practice karate and wanted to be an Olympian, but left as he didn’t have any support. So, when my mom wasn’t letting me go for training a few days later, he coaxed her to let me go!” It was only after he won his first gold medal that his mother was finally convinced. And even when she watched him fight live for the first time on national TV in 2005, she was very nervous and panicking.
Shiva was the youngest of six siblings in a family with one breadwinner – his father. So, they had financial problems, which also hindered with his training. “In India, if you want to go to the Olympics individually, you need some support from the government, and they offered us none. My father sold his furniture shop at our hometown to get money for training camps and to travel to these camps and competitions. He wasn’t allowed in the training camp where I went with my brother, who would also train with me. So, he stayed at a hotel and took care of us. The Sports Authority of India was the only support we got,” Shiva says.
Observing that there is a lot of untapped talent in Assam and India, Shiva opines that the government needs to take out some schemes for such young talents to be converted into promising sportspersons. “But there aren’t any strong schemes in Assam. How can a family support and let their kid play a sport if they don’t think it’s a good career choice as they see no support by the government? Haryana has a lot of talent and have a lot of support – financial support, promotions, etc – and so, the maximum number of athletes at any Indian contingency are from Haryana.”
Shiva trains thrice a day. He starts by meditating for an hour at 5 am, followed by running for 45 minutes early morning. He then works on punching bags, skips and does squats, etc. He also has a short one hour session where he practices skill improvement with a punching pad. The post-lunch session at 3:30-4 pm is focused on honing his fighting skills and techniques in the ring. His gym work, he says, isn’t about lifting heavy weights, but just a really fast workout regime as boxers need lean muscles. Shiva also participates in a free fight competition two to three times a week. “The wrist is a crucial part for a boxer as he is prone to wrist injuries, do one needs to wrap the hands properly before boxing. But, more than training, you need to make sure you don’t have any injury. Also, one gets homesick and may fall ill, so being mentally fine is also really important,” he adds. He also said that regularly changing sparring partners is crucial.
Shiva follows a really strict diet for at least one month leading up to a fight to maintain his weight at 60 kg.
The trainers of the 18-year-old boxer have put him on a minimum 5,000-calorie-a-day, protein-rich diet.
But there are rules to follow. Such as: no junk food. This is one of the things Thapa says he dislikes most about being a professional boxer. Burgers, soft drinks and fried food are forbidden to him.
Below is his typical daily diet – do not try this at home:
Breakfast: Four-to-five boiled eggs, a bowl of porridge with milk, two slices of buttered toast and fresh fruit.
Lunch and dinner: Soup first–typically chicken, tomato or vegetable –followed by a heavy meal with rice, chapattis (flat Indian bread), boiled chicken, mixed vegetables, yogurt and more fruit.
Multivitamins and fresh juices are also taken at fixed intervals during the day.
“I try to eat dinner early, or else it results in weight gain.”
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