Women boxers fuelled by ambition

SWEATING IT OUT Sarjubala Devi at a training session ahead of the Asian Games. PTI

There are no star faces in the three-member Indian women boxing contingent for the Asian Games. There is plenty of enthusiasm and determination, though.

Sarjubala Devi (51 kg), Sonia Lather (57 kg) and Pavitra (60 kg) dream to punch above their weight and create glory in their maiden appearance at the Games.

The previous edition was bitter-sweet for Indian women boxers. All three boxers returned with medals. Mary Kom made history with the gold in 51kg, Sarita Devi bagged the controversial bronze medal in 60kg -- her tearful protest earned her one-year suspension -- and Pooja Rani (75kg) claimed another bronze.

With both Mary and Sarita choosing to pull out of this Asiad, the current trio of youngsters find themselves saddled with an enormous task. Each brings with her a story of fight against the odds and a burning desire of achieving glory in the ring.

Sarjubala, for instance, is not hard to miss in the boxing hall of the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex. Her blond fountain ponytail instantly attracts one to the five-foot Manipuri.

The 25-year-old had dyed her hair half blond to assuage the disappointment of missing on the selection for Gold Coast Commonwealth Games. “I was really upset, I wanted something different, something to change,” Sarjubala, who has a silver in World Championships, told DH.

Change in training

“I was a 48 kg boxer but then who can win against Mary (laughs). So I put on weight to fight in 51 kg and won the nationals in January this year. I made changes in my training and took help of Mary and coach (Raffaele Bergamasco) who told me about the importance of power because in 51 kg power matters. He told me to box intelligently without compromising on speed. My whole game has changed in the last few months. I have got this chance after a lot of difficulties, so I want nothing less than a medal.”

Sonia Lather, on the hand, has a quiet defiance around her. Flaunting a boy cut, the boxer from Haryana doesn’t mind pushing herself to accomplish her goal.

The World Boxing Championships silver medallist also has a silver in the 2017 Asian Championships. A gold medal at an international event has eluded her.

z“But now I want one. When I am training I don’t go home for months, even for one year. My target is to win Olympic gold. My family completely supports me,” Sonia said.

The 24-year-old believes in her self-taught methods and prefers to watch the videos of men boxers.

“Any day I prefer to watch the videos of men boxers to women. Their style and skills are better, and I want to apply them in my fights. I want to prepare myself in such a way that people mark me,” she said.

Pavitra, 31, is the most experienced of the lot and hopes they could replicate the success of last year. “We had good exposure trips to Italy and Sheffield where we got to learn a lot by sparring with top boxers. Hope we could do make our mark in Asian Games, and begin new journeys,” she said.

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Women boxers fuelled by ambition

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