BANGALORE: More and more women in the city seem to be taking to boxing over the past couple of years. Perhaps, this has been inspired by international champion Mary Kom, who has just bagged a gold in the Asian Games, clubs and associations speculate.
Secretary of Karnataka Boxing Association Martin Rajendran tells us that in the last national tournament in 2012, 35 women participated.
“There’s an increase in the number of women taking up boxing. Eastwood High School in Cambridge Layout hosts an annual tournament, and this is the sport that they focus on,” he says, adding that the association’s aim now is to make boxing more accessible to everyone.
He also believes that this new-found enthusiasm among women is likely to translate into more professional boxers.
“Since it’s an individual sport and people know that results depend largely on the effort they put into it, they realise that it’s not a bad career option,” Martin explains. Several all-women coaching sessions and boxing clubs too have sprung up around the city, he shares.
However, at other clubs like Ramana Boxing Club, Hennur, women and men train together. “We’ve had quite a few women coming in for a few years now. But Mary Kom’s story has definitely boosted the morale of some of our women boxers,” says Ramana, the coach, adding that there are about seven women training at the club right now.
Why women stayed away
Founder of Fitness Fight Club at Domlur Austin Prakesh feels that the lack of what he calls a white-collared environment might have kept women away.
“Most coaches are from a military background, so women might not feel comfortable walking into their classes,” he says adding that about 40 per cent of the people who come in for boxing classes are women.
And he believes that the film featuring the boxing champion now in the news hasn’t helped much. “Boxing too is like any other sport: fitness comes first. And you don’t really have to carry two tyres up a hill for that.”
After fitness comes the art or skill of boxing, he opines, and a handful of women, like their male counterparts, choose to participate in fights. He hopes that more clubs like his come up in the city soon.
“It’s healthy competition and will also make people more aware of the thrill of boxing,” says the boxer who hails from Singapore, a country, like China or the West, he claims has more women in the fighting arena.
Boxing for fitness
Deepti Jagadeesh, who trains at Ramana Boxing Club, picked up the sport six months ago. “I’ve been into martial arts for sometime now. I was just looking for something that will keep me fit and boxing seemed convenient,” says the 32-year-old architect.
She trains six days a week. “I don’t really look at it as a form of self-defense but that’s an added advantage too,” she says.
Sixteen-year-old Afsana Naidu too has taken up boxing to keep fit. “I used to play polo, but my coach moved,” she says.
So six months ago, she first took up jiu-jitsu, and then boxing a month back, and she has a couple of corporate fights in each of these arts to her credit.
She finds that they are a good way to work out.
Raechel Lobo, on the other hand, has been fascinated with boxing since she was 10. A national bronze medalist who has been boxing for three years, the 17-year-old maintains that “boxing is not for sissies”, and that it has made her tougher and more confident.
During the initial months, Lobo faced many questioning stares, which later turned into looks of admiration. “When you’re a girl and they see how tough you are, they appreciate you even more,” she says with a laugh.
As passionate as she is about the martial art, which among her friends has gained popularity with rising safety concerns, she’s not sure whether she can make a career of it.
“I wish I could, but I don’t know. I want to have a proper job, and I might even have to go abroad. And getting back to boxing after that might not be too easy, though I will continue it as a hobby at least,” she adds.