Boxing is a very personal experience and also a powerful interpersonal one. People often think that boxers are aggressive, but I have never been an aggressive person. I am not an aggressive person at all, but to grow up, you have to learn to stick up for yourself, and it`s always been in my blood.
I started boxing in 1978 when I was 11 years old. Boxing takes extraordinary effort. Everything is hard work, you have to be mentally strong to stay fit, and to go through the pain barriers to get there, so I wouldn`t say that there`s any effortless part about it even at a young age.
At the age of 17, I won gold medal in Asian championship in Nepal in 1985 for which I had to train twice a day, 6 days a week. I didn`t get much time for myself.
As the Olympics approached, I was hell-bent on making it in the squad. I started questioning `Have I done enough? Am I fit enough? Did I work hard enough? Am I ready for this?`
My coach Mr. Madan Sharma, a `Shiv Chhatrapati` awardee, used to tell me, Living the life of a boxer comes down to keeping yourself in peak condition all the time. And as a culmination of his efforts, in 1988, I represented India in Olympics.
I have won national championships from 1988-91. In the tenure from 1985-91 I participated in 15 international matches whereby I won 5 gold and one silver medal. I received Arjuna Award in 1994.I started coaching in 2005 through my club called “Manoj Pingale Sports Academy.”
My idol Muhammad Ali often said, “He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life.” You have 150 or 200 people there, your own supporters there and everyone is cheering you on, you know you have got good support, everyone is behind you, it`s just, it gives you a really nice feeling, just feel good about yourself. I box for that feeling!