An Exclusive with Tashi Phuntsho

Tashi Phuntsho, a 43-year-old hailing from Chukha Dzongkhag, has dedicated nearly a decade to training boxers from Bhutan. His personal journey into the world of boxing began in 2000 and continued until 2008. Following that, he seamlessly transitioned into a coaching role, channeling his expertise towards nurturing Bhutanese boxing talents.
Currently an esteemed member of the armed forces, Tashi Phuntsho holds the prominent position of head coach at the Bhutan Boxing Federation. In this interview, he generously shares some of his profound experiences within the realm of boxing and provides insights into the highly-anticipated Asian Games, scheduled to take place in Hangzhou, China.

Q. What inspired you to pursue a career as a boxing coach?
A. Well, my passion for boxing dates back to my childhood. It was a way for me to stay in shape and I became really engrossed in it. As I grew older, that passion transformed into a desire to share my knowledge and help others develop their boxing skills, which ultimately led me to become a boxing coach.

Q. How many years have you been a boxer?
A. I began practicing boxing immediately after joining the army. In 2004, my dedication to boxing intensified, and I actively engaged with the Bhutan National Boxing Federation. I was even chosen to represent the nation as a boxer until 2008. After that, I transitioned into coaching.

Q. Can you highlight the distinctions youโ€™ve identified between the boxing scene during your era and the present day?
A. Certainly. Over this timeframe, Iโ€™ve observed quite a few differences. Back in the day, boxing didnโ€™t enjoy the same level of awareness it does now. But as time has passed, itโ€™s remarkable how much popularity boxing has garnered within the country. The sport has managed to captivate a growing number of individuals, and itโ€™s not only the participants โ€“ even the equipment has gone through substantial advancements.

Q. Given our countryโ€™s traditional values, boxing wasnโ€™t initially part of the cultural landscape. Were there any attempts to discourage the adoption of boxing as a sport?
A. Indeed, there are individuals who adhere to the belief that introducing boxing to children might encourage them to misuse their strength. Additionally, concerns arise due to the combative nature of boxing, where participants engage in striking that could potentially lead to injuries. These perceptions are shared even by parents who harbor reservations about the sportโ€™s safety. However, itโ€™s important to emphasize that boxing isnโ€™t fundamentally distinct from other sports. With proper training, the risk of severe injuries is minimal โ€“ comparable to that of football, basketball, and various other sports.

Q. As the Asian Games draw near, could you provide insight into your preparation strategies and how youโ€™re honing your boxersโ€™ skills?
A. Our approach to training for the event isnโ€™t drastically different from our usual routines. We maintain a consistent regimen, putting in the same level of dedication as we do on any regular day.
Itโ€™s evident that our pool of boxers isnโ€™t as extensive as that of some other countries. These nations possess larger populations and numerous boxing clubs, factors that contribute to their robust representation on the global boxing scene. In Bhutan, our roster of boxers is more modest.
To enhance our physical fitness and refine our techniques, the prospect of training abroad holds immense appeal. Collaborating in joint training sessions with established boxers from diverse nations could offer invaluable insights. Furthermore, participating in a variety of international tournaments would undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the growth and progression of our boxers.

Q. In your opinion, what measures are crucial for advancing the state of boxing in our nation?
A. To facilitate the growth of the Bhutan National Boxing Federation, itโ€™s pivotal to establish additional boxing clubs in various regions throughout the country. Just as weโ€™ve ensured top-notch facilities and resources in Thimphu, itโ€™s vital to extend similar provisions to other Dzongkhags. This approach would undoubtedly attract a more extensive group of budding boxers, enabling us to nurture exceptional talent.
Furthermore, the regular organization of national championship boxing competitions is of utmost importance. Ideally, conducting these tournaments two to three times annually would offer a platform for boxers to demonstrate their prowess and contribute to raising the overall standard of the sport within our nation.

Message:

Three boxers from the Bhutan National Boxing Federation, along with me, are preparing to participate in the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou, China. With steadfast support from both the people and the government, and fueled by our own unwavering commitment, we are resolute in our determination to give our best for the country.

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