GUWAHATI: Theirs is not your usual run of- the mill tale. Much before they could grasp the idea of boxing, they had to face multiple roadblocks. Familial and financial issues and overcoming of the stereotype that combat sport is not for women were foremost. But as the saying goes, the bravest of the brave display their mettle when they have their backs against the wall.
Such is the account of Indian women boxers, who deservedly hogged the limelight with a clinical showing at the recently- concluded AIBA Women’s Youth Boxing World Championship in Guwahati. Five ended with gold while two settled for bronze. Four have their roots in remote villages in Haryana, a hotbed for the sport. Nitu, Jyoti, Sakshi Choudhary and Shashi Chopra braved odds to live their dreams. For the former, it was her father who opted for leave without pay for more than two years so that she could train without disruption. Jyoti’s narrative is even more compelling.
Her parents were strictly against boxing. She had to sneak out without their knowledge to don gloves, before baring the truth after getting selected for a state meet. “If I can win gold, my life will change entirely,” Jyoti had said after her semifinal win, hinting that her parents — farmers from Rurki village (15km away from Rohtak) — would take her decision more seriously then.
With this success and a berth in the Youth Olympic Games, her life is destined to change big time. Apart from the Haryana girls, Assam’s Ankushita Boro’s story too is a big one. Like the rest, she has humble roots. Barely anyone is aware of the sport in her village (about 200km away from Guwahati).
Her father is a teacher, and what he makes is barely enough to make ends meet. Despite that, they put faith in Ankushita as she slowly made her way up. One of the best technical boxers in the competition, she fought bravely and was named as best boxer of the competition. Fans have already taken the liking to them. Many stopped them for selfies and they nervously obliged, looking to get used to the limelight.
“It feels great. The crowd has been very generous. It has been a great experience,” Shashi had said before the final. Credit must also be handed to coach Rafaele Bergamasco.
Their bond was apparent in the way they went about business during training. After wins, they would jump into his arms with delight. With their fighting qualities, Ankushita & Co can really go a long way in the years to come.