Sixteen-year-old Rajni made her way to meet her teammates after her 3-0 win over Ragini Upadhyay of Uttar Pradesh in the women’s 46 kg final of the 2nd Junior Women Boxing Championship at the Chandigarh University. After accepting the congratulatory messages, the diminutive boxer soon headed to the milk booth corner outside the hall. She gulped down a glass of milk. Then she carefully wrapped her medal in a cloth and put it in her bag. She wanted to make sure that the medal was carefully kept till she was able to present it to her father Jasmer Singh.
Rajni knows the daily struggle her father goes through to ensure that she can box. He spends 12 hours a day selling lassi in Panipat for Rs 8 a glass. The medal, the girl from Buana Lakhu knows, will make her father extremely happy. “I am the third of six siblings. My father starts his day even before I wake up. He collects lassi from the village homes and travels from our village in Buana Lakhu to Panipat on his bike to sell it. When I showed interest in boxing, he supported me. I trained under coach Surinder Malik sir at the village. I would box with old gloves. At times there was not enough food for three full meals but my mother Usha Rani would make some ghee from left-over curd,” Rajni says.
Rajni started training under coach Malik at the Phul Singh Memorial Boxing Club at her village. With more than 50 girls training at the village, Rajni had no dearth of sparring partners. Last year, the youngster became the national champion in 46 Kg category in the 1st BFI Junior Nationals at Dehradun.
This year, the youngster won the gold medal in the Nations Junior Cup in Serbia, where she defeated Russian Anastasia Kiriyenko. It was also the first time that Rajni had travelled abroad. Father Jasmer Singh recalls how he was a tad nervous when Rajni travelled to Serbia.
“When she travelled to Serbia this year, it was for the first time that anyone from our family went outside India. I travel for more than 100 kms on my bike to sell lassi in three colonies in Panipat from my village. Sometimes, I earn a profit of Rs 400-500 and sometimes when the lassi gets spoiled in the summer, the profit falls. When Rajni showed interest in boxing we wanted her to achieve what we could not,” Surjit says.
With her diminutive frame, Rajni has often outclassed much taller opponents and coach Surinder Malik believes that her patience and swift blows are the key to her success. “Her biggest strength has been her understanding of ‘scoring blows’ and the way she uses her small frame to create low body shots,” shared the coach.
As for Rajni, her wish is to meet six-time World champion Mary Kom. “I have always idolised Mary Kom didi and she is an inspiration for all the boxers. Maybe, one day I can win another gold medal and she will hand me the gold medal. That day will be like winning in Olympics for me,” Rajni says.
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