NEW DELHI: Athletes lacking support in terms of funds is a common phenomenon. But to spot someone who is taking part in a flagship event and is managing his/her entire expense including travel, tickets and accommodations is quite unimaginable. Canadian Sara Haghighat-Joo is doing just that. She went solo as a boxer few years ago after realising that the funds offered by the government were paltry. So how did the independent Sara find her way to New Delhi for the ongoing World Championships? Apart from the support she receives from the place where she trains, the British Colombia native also put up a crowdfunding campaign.
“I’m a full-time athlete so its always hard to come up with this kind of money. The response was good. I’m lucky to be here,” she said. According to Sara, any boxer looking to get government support in Canada should be centralised. That meant the Ontariobased pugilist had to leave her hometown and move to Montreal, which did not fit her plans. Moreover, the funds that the government promised were not enticing enough. “The offer of C$23000 a year was definitely not enough. So I turned down the proposal,” the 24-year-old said. “I didn’t think that I would improve my skills,” she added. As she narrates her tale further, one can sense that she has that independent streak about her. Having dabbled in multiple team sports, she found out that she was not cut out for them.
“I was involved in a lot of team sports in high school. I was sick of my team always losing, the coaches benching me for no reason. My brother at the time was into boxing (represented Canada). So I joined his gym for fitness and fun. My coach encouraged me to spar and six months later I was ready to fight,” she recalled. She works as a fitness instructor at a club in Ontario, the place where she trains. Sara was just 16 when she took up the sport.
“Back then, it was points system. I won my first fight 40-12. And that was huge! Second day, I was in the senior division, and won again. This is the best feeling in the world. It’s an individual sport and all the pressure is on you. That’s when I realised boxing is for me.” Incentive to travel the world further amplified her love for the sport. The 51kg boxer got off to a winning start on Saturday, beating Italy’s Roberta Mostarda 4-1. Saturday India results: Sonia bt Toujani Doaa (MAR) 5-0; Pinki Jangra bt Anush Grigoryan (ARM) 4-1; Simranjeet Kaur bt Amelia Moore (USA) 4-1.