World number one Vijender Singh (75kg) fought through a bleeding nose to clinch his first international gold medal in two years as Indian pugilists made a clean sweep in the finals to win the overall team title at the fifth Commonwealth Boxing Championships here on Wednesday.
With Asian champion Suranjoy Singh (52kg), South Asian Games gold medallist Amandeep Singh (49kg), Asian silver medallist Jai Bhagwan (60kg) and Paramjeet Samota (+91kg) also triumphing in the finals, it turned out to be an all-win day for the hosts in front of a houseful crowd.
The gold rush started early for the Indians when Olympian Dinesh Kumar (81kg) got a walkover against Scot Callum Johnson, who was declared medically unfit due to a right wrist injury this morning.
Championship bronze medallist Vijender thrashed England's Frank Buglioni 13-3 despite a bloodied nose.
"I was scared that the bout may be stopped and I would be declared medically unfit. Bleeding was just not stopping. I was constantly looking at the judges to see what they might do," said the 24-year-old Haryana boxer, who was adjudged the best boxer of the tournament.
"A gold medal after two years (the last being at the Chemistry Cup in Germany in 2008) is obviously very satisfying," added the strapping six-footer, who started the year with a silver in an invitational tourney in China in January.
Sharp and swift with his movement, Vijender out-witted his rival, who repeatedly tried to hit him on the injured nose. Scoring mostly through straight right punches and left hooks, the Indian was 3-1 up in the opening round and despite being tentative after injuring his nose, Vijender remained ruthless enough to land some telling jabs on his opponent.
Buglioni ran out of steam in the final three minutes and Vijender even dared him with an open guard after taking complete control of the bout.
"Vijender is very quick on his feet and that helped him remain in control. As far as the bleeding goes, I would say, god protected him today because the blood was just not stopping despite applying ice," said national coach Gurbax Singh Sandhu.
Earlier, the day started perfectly for the Indians when Samota eked out a hard-fought 7-3 triumph over New Zealand's Joseph Parker.
Samota trailed 0-1 in the opening round but came back strongly with a flurry of straight punches to unsettle his rival. The two boxers were tied 3-3 in the second round but the Indian nosed ahead in the final round as Parker began to tire out.
"I tried to settle down in the first round and though I was trailing, I was confident of coming back and the massive crowd support also helped me. He began to look tired after the second round and that's when I attacked him the most," said Samota, for whom it was a career-best performance.
Next man in was Amandeep and though he faced an aggressive opponent in Kenya's Peter Mungai, the Punjab boxer kept his cool to notch up a 3-0 triumph.
"It wasn't as tough as I expected and I am happy about that. I got just three points but then my rival didn't get any," quipped the 23-year-old.
For Suranjoy, it was literally a stroll in the park as he out-classed his Mauritian rival Oliver Lavigi in just 25 seconds to get the gold medal. The diminutive Manipuri was up 1-0 but didn't know which punch of his left his opponent in no condition to fight.
"I just hit three punches and no clue which one of them got him," said the Asian Championship and President's Cup gold medallist.
In contrast, Jai had to toil hard and the Haryana-lad even ended up with a cut below his right eye after the 6-2 win over Bahamian Valention Knowles.
Knowles was the first to score in the most edge-of-the-seat contest of the day and it was only in the second round that Jai began taking control with a slender 3-2 lead.
The Indian went all out in the final round, forcing
"It was difficult to control punches as my rival was moving so much in the ring. But my fitness levels helped me," he said.
Jai dedicated his triumph to good friend and his room-partner Vijender for supporting him in his hour of crisis.
"Vijender supported me through an injury crisis in 2008 and motivated me to continue. So, this win is for him," Jai said.
While India clinched the team title, defending champion England finished runners-up. India had previously won the team title in 2005 with four gold and three silver medals in Glasgow. In 2007, Indians had fetched a gold, two silver and three bronze medals to finish runners-up in Liverpool.
This time, the hosts had picked a 10-member team for the competition.
Of them, Akhil Kumar (56kg), Balwinder Beniwal (64kg), Dilbagh Singh (69kg) and Manpreet Singh (91kg) had crashed out by the quarterfinal stage.