Boxers, especially in the lower weight categories, can take weight watching to almost neurotic limits. Yet, on Saturday morning, when Pinki Jangra, after several months of watching her intake, tucked into a plate of greasy aloo parathas, the usually forbidden high-calorie treat was justified. Jangra had returned home to Hisar, Haryana, for a ten-day break after the selection trials in Patiala for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games, where she had booked her spot with an upset win over Olympic bronze-medallist Mary Kom.
While this triumph — only her second in over ten years at the national level — was a huge achievement, the 24-year-old says the first was more important. Back in 2009, Jangra, then an unheralded 19-year-old, had beaten Mary in the quarters of the Nationals. “That win against Mary didi was the turning point of my career. When I beat Mary didi, I started believing that I belonged to this level. My goals changed. I wanted to take part and win medals at the Worlds and Olympics,” says Jangra.
Jangra only got into boxing because of the insistence of her elder brothers Amit and Ashwini, who decided their then 10-year-old sister join in. “My parents weren’t against the idea, but they were worried about my safety,” says Jangra.
Her brothers though, convinced their parents and ensured their sister’s career thrived once their’s wound down. “Wherever I have reached in my career is because of my family — especially my brothers. There were so many girls who started out along with me but stopped boxing because they didn’t have the kind of support I had,” says Jangra.
There was motivation for them as well. “I had won a silver in the Haryana sub-junior championships but after that, Ashwini and I focussed on our studies. We live our sporting ambitions through Pinky,” smiles Amit.
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Jangra admits that a win over Mary doesn’t mean much by itself. Indeed, a year after her 2009 win, she lost in the the first round of the 2010 Nationals. The loss did have a silver lining — it renewed her focus. At the National Games three months later, she defeated Sarita Devi for gold.
But Mary remained the boxer in her sights. They faced each other in 2012 during the selection trials in the 51kg category for the World Championships. “I thought it was my time then, but I lost fairly,” says Jangra.
Jangra is keen to cement her place now that she has her foot in the door. “Winning the Commonwealth Games trials is a big step but my goals don’t stop here. This is a big year with the Asian Games and World Championships. I need to ensure I go to both and win. I think this is my time to perform,”she says.