Tajikistan found its new boxing hero at the 2011 AIBA Junior World Championships held in Astana when 16-year-old Asror Vohidov secured a remarkable and unexpected gold medal. He was then rewarded for his scintillating displays by being awarded the event's best boxer trophy.
Tajikistan became an independent nation in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union and the national boxing federation became operational a year later. Since then Tajikistan's best boxers have always performed well on the international stage with amongst these Timur Saburov, Khurshed Khasanov, Abdusalom Khasanov, Mekhrodj Umarov, Sokhib Usarov, Sherali Dostiyev, Sherali Mamadaliyev, Asian Games winner Djakhon Kurbanov and AIBA World Championships bronze medallist Anvar Yunusov. Asror Vohidov will soon be joining this star-studded line-up once he makes his debut in elite tournaments.
Asror Vohidov was born in the town of Isfara near by the border of Kyrgyzstan on 20 October 1995; he was inspired to box by his father Akram Vohidov and his cousin Farrukh Okhonov who was a National Heavyweight Champion. When he started the sport at the tender age of ten he weighed just 23kg. He developed under the careful tutelage of his coach Fathullobek Fathulloyev.
Vohidov started his rise by stopping Parviz Amrikhudoyev in the final at the annual Tajik Junior National Championships in Dushanbe. He found it difficult to amass international experience prior to competing at the AIBA Junior World Championships. But he took to the ring on the biggest stage of all for a Junior boxer like a duck to water.
In his opening contest, Vohidov met Australia's Liam Wilson who was considered a strong medal contender, having lost only three times previous in his amateur career. The much taller Australian boxer fought hard but Vohidov looked at ease against his rangy opponent, eliminating him 13:9.
In the second round of the championship preliminaries, the talented young Tajik stopped Armenia's European Schoolboys Championships silver medallist Erik Petrosyan to advance. In the last eight, he would face India's favourite and Junior National Champion Lalitha Prasad Polipalli who had celebrated his 16th birthday just before the competition start. Vohidov was too strong for the Indian boxer as he progressed, becoming the only Tajik medal winner at these AIBA Junior World Championships in Astana.
At the semi-final stage, Vohidov was unstoppable as he steamrolled his way past the Ukrainian favourite, European Junior Champion and former European Schoolboy Champion Oleksandr Melenyuk. Vohidov advanced to the final by winning the Light Flyweight contest in stunning fashion 13:3.
Standing between Vohidov and gold medal glory was the Russian Junior National Champion Vladislav Krasnosheyn, known as an excellent technician. Despite the toughness of his opponent, Vohidov won each of the three rounds for an emphatic victory 20:9. The young fighter made history not only for himself but for his nation by becoming the first Tajik to win a gold medal at an AIBA event.
At only 155cm tall, his greatest strengths are his footwork, speed and surprisingly hard punches. Asror Vohidov's short-term targets are to finish high school in Isfara, increase his knowledge of English and secure at least a medal position at the 2012 AIBA Youth World Championships.
His long-term targets are to take part at 2013 AIBA World Men's Elite Championships, to be held in Astana, then achieve a medal at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Kazakhstan boxing legend, Moscow Olympic Games silver medallist Serik Konakbayev said of Vohidov: 'He has got a great future ahead of him and looks more than capable of winning a medal at the Olympics in 2016.'
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