It was from non-committal beginnings that the interest grew, and now, she’s hooked. For 17-year-old Sreekomal J S, a resident of Pulimoodu in Thiruvananthapuram, boxing has become a bit of a ‘craze’ that is part and parcel of her daily life. Enough to make her go the distance to claim the gold at this year’s state-level junior women boxing championships.
Now, she is hoping for a chance at the upcoming Junior Women National Boxing Championship of the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF), slated to be held in Shimla next month.
It doesn’t come as much of a surprise that this teenager should make a serious hobby out of this not-so-prominent-in-Kerala sport. With her father being a boxing coach himself, presently at the State Sports Council, much of her childhood was spent on the ringside.
“My father used to take me to see matches and at first I wasn’t all that interested, but that soon changed,” says Sreekomal, whose father, Jawahar S K, is also her coach. “When I told him of my growing interest, he immediately asked, then why don’t we get you out into the ring?”
And so her training began in 2010, when she was in class 9, and her first year as an amateur boxer was to bring her laurels enough to encourage her further.
“I won the gold at the state-level in 2010 and qualified for the sub-junior women’s nationals, where I took the bronze,” says Sreekomal, who’d competed in the 57 kg category that year.
The next year, however, didn’t see her put up as good a fight as before. Though she’d again won the gold at the state, she went down in the Junior Nationals to Punjab’s Neeraj Bala, who has represented India in the international arena, in the first bout itself. Again, 2012 was a repeat of the previous year - gold at the state-level but none at the nationals, held in Kolkata that year.
“She doesn’t spar with as much skill as some of my other students and if one were to see her during practice, they would think her lazy,” says her father-cum-coach Jawahar, who trains seven girls, other than Sreekomal, in the under-17 age group at the Council. “But when it comes down to an actual fight, she doesn’t pull her punches. She’s got a great deal of will-power and fighting spirit that a boxer needs.”
Asked if she is considering making a career of this sport, she says: “It started out as a hobby but I’m more serious about it now, for sure; as for the rest I’ll just have to wait and watch.”
For the moment, she is content perfecting her skills in the ring to better her performance at the nationals and juggling her time between her chosen sport and schoolwork.