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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

How an underweight Rohtak girl Parveen got a World Boxing bronze

On Wednesday, 21-year-old Parveen lost by a 1:4 split decision against Amy Broadhurst of Ireland in the 63kg semi-final of the IBA World Women’s Boxing Championship in Turkey, not before ensuring a medal at the world stage.

Written by Nitin Sharma | Chandigarh |
Updated: May 19, 2022 6:15:30 pm
The youngster would become the national youth champion in the 54 Kg category in 2017 before winning a silver medal at the Youth Nations Cup in Serbia the same year.

Back in 2011, a young Parveen Hooda heard the munadi wala (town crier) making an announcement about sarpanch Sudhir Hooda setting up a boxing academy in her village Rurki near Rohtak. She would urge her father Lakhpat Singh to get her enrolled in the academy, even though the family’s financial condition wasn’t great. But with the academy not charging any fee from its trainees, that problem was solved.

On Wednesday, 21-year-old Parveen lost by a 1:4 split decision against Amy Broadhurst of Ireland in the 63kg semi-final of the IBA World Women’s Boxing Championship in Turkey, not before ensuring a medal at the world stage. Now, her father and coach were making plans to make an announcement about her feat through the village munadi wala before her return home.

“I had become the sarpanch of the village in 2011 and decided to open a boxing academy for the village kids. I got the announcement of the academy made through the munadi wala and more than 100 kids, including 60 girls, had come to enquire. I remember Parveen asking about the fee and rushing home to tell her father that there will be none. Since that day, I have seen the same passion for boxing in her every single day. We will be making the announcement in the village for her grand welcome,” Parveen’s coach Sudhir Hooda told The Indian Express.

The youngster would first win the sub-junior title in Haryana before becoming the national sub-junior champion in Kolkata in 2011. While the period from 2012 to 2016 would not see any sub-junior or junior events being conducted due to the ban on the then Indian Boxing Federation, and coach Hooda shifting to Rohtak, it meant that the youngster would travel in an auto to the stadium from her village.

“When she first came to train at the village, she weighed less than 25 kgs. So, my first focus was to make her add weight. The one thing which I noticed was that she displayed good speed during sparring. In training, she would always dodge the boys and return with counter-punches. Her strategy was always to prompt them to hit her and then escaping the punches before hitting combinations of counter-punches,” says the coach.

Parveen Hooda with parents Lakhpat Singh and Neelam.

While the sub-junior national gold would get Hooda a cash award of Rs two lakh from the Haryana government, the fact that there were no domestic tournaments for four years, made the family think about the finances. While coach Sudhir would take care of all the equipment and training expenses, the family sometimes had to borrow money as well. “She knew the family’s condition and would never ask for money for getting gloves or shoes. But we would often borrow money from friends and relatives and repay the loan with whatever we earned from the farmland or selling milk of a buffalo after Parveen had had her share of milk. Later, we got another buffalo for some extra income to support her dream,” says mother Neelam.

Steady progress

The youngster would become the national youth champion in the 54 Kg category in 2017 before winning a silver medal at the Youth Nations Cup in Serbia the same year. Parveen’s name would be sent by her coach to Boxing Haryana for the trials for the national camp. There, she would score a 5-0 win over Asian Games medallist and former world champion Sarita Devi apart from two other wins to make it to the national camp in the 60kg category. The youngster would then win a bronze medal at the Cologne World Cup before winning a silver in the President’s Cup in Kazakhstan, where she beat 2018 World Championship bronze medallist Karina Ibragimova.

The youngster would first win the sub-junior title in Haryana before becoming the national sub-junior champion in Kolkata in 2011.

“The win over Sarita Devi meant a lot for her confidence and prompted her to improve her game rather than taking the pressure to get medals,” says the coach.

Parveen, who made a mark in the 60 kg class, an Olympic weight category, with medals in Kazakhstan, Germany and India Open in 2019, had to shift to 63 kg last year after she joined Indo-Tibetan Border Police and underwent a four- month training stint. While the IBA has introduced 66 kg as one of the two new weight categories in women’s boxing for 2024 Paris Olympics with 60 kg too being a weight division, she will be eying the 66 kg division post the world championships.

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“Her strength has been coming from left or right after drawing the opponent’s punch and to get her counter- punches going. Today also, she was able to do that but the Irish boxer displayed better control. The 66kg class will demand a lot of stamina and if she has to be a quota and medal contender for India at the Olympics, she has to increase her stamina apart from adding more range of power punches, which work in this weight,” says the coach.

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