Boxing: Indian women ready for Asian championship

Coaches have prepared us very well in the camp, says Nitu

It is a happy camp. Peppy music and bursts of laughter add to the pleasant ambience as the women boxers go through a rigorous session at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex.

Veteran Sarita Devi and Nitu, the torch-bearer of the young talent, strike a rapport which is reflective of the team spirit on the eve of the Asian championship to be held in Bangkok from April 16 to 27.

For Sarita, 37, it is an extension of her unflinching ambition to serve Indian boxing. For Nitu, 18, it is an expression of her determination to relive some of Sarita’s glory. It is Nitu’s first appearance at the senior level but she hardly gives the impression of being a rookie.

The newly-appointed women’s head coach, Mohd. Ali Qamar, a gold medallist at the Commonwealth Games, is just a year older than Sarita. “We have concentrated on strength at this camp. We expect good results. The youngsters are motivated when they see the seniors. It is a plus point that Mary Kom and Sarita are training with them.”

Nitu is excited. “Our coaches have prepared us very well in the camp, be it technical or tactical aspect.”

She watches Sarita from the corner of the eye, “Mary didi and Sarita didi motivate us a lot. They tell us our weakness, how to improve and use our qualities in a right manner. Sarita didi plays with a very cool mind. It is only because of her that women’s boxing has come up so well in the country. She is also southpaw like me, so seeing her bouts is benefiting me a lot.”

Kind words

Sarita has kind words for all of them. “The youngsters are very talented and hard-working too. All of them had done very well at the youth level, and are now playing in their first senior tournament.

“I feel they will do well, they are training with a lot of confidence. These youngsters have an amazing focus and enthusiasm.

“ Even when they are training with the seniors here, they are not fearful. They box freely. The most important thing in boxing is that the heart should be strong. And these kids have strong hearts and the courage to fight.”

The veteran concludes on an encouraging note. “In our time there were no facilities. We did our best with what we got. We struggled a lot, but gave performances too. The new boxers have got full support of BFI, Sports Ministry and SAI. So they should give even better performances.”

The squad: 48kg: Nitu; 51kg: Nikhat Zareen; 54kg: Manisha; 57kg: Sonia Chahal; 60kg: Sarita Devi; 64kg: Simranjit Kaur; 69kg: Lovlina Borgohain; 75kg: Nupur; 81kg: Pooja Rani; 81+kg: Seema Poonia.

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