Took up boxing by chance, Parveen Hooda seeks top spot at World Boxing Championships
Parveen Hooda has shown herself as another prodigy in the talented pool of Indian female boxers, but the youngster has struggled a lot to reach where she is today
The cohort of female boxers at the ongoing Women's World Boxing Championships has done exceptionally well this year. Amongst the contingent, Nikhat Zareen, Manisha and Parveen have maintained their consistency to reach the semi-finals and have assured India of at least three bronze medals. Along with their hard work and dedication is the story of Parveen Hooda, whose journey to the semi-finals began in a village boxing academy in Haryana.
22-year-old Parveen is one of the many athletes produced from the conveyor belt of athletes from Haryana. Hailing from Rurki, a village that is just under 15km away from Rohtak, Parveen utilised the few opportunities and resources that she received as a youngster to make a name for herself in the Indian Boxing circuit.
One of the reasons why Parveen's medal success makes for a brilliant story is that she had few resources available to her while growing up. Her family was into agriculture and owned just one buffalo and a tract of land. This buffalo's milk was sold by them to make up extra money for personal daily sustenance. Purchasing and funding their daughter's boxing dream was also an expensive affair given the costs associated with the sport. This was also coupled with the fact that Parveen was small in her physical stature and had to work around her height to be able to compete at a certain level.
Grabbing the opportunity
It was the local sarpanch, Sudhir Hooda who was worried about the rampant use of drugs and joblessness amongst the youth in his village. It was his ingenious plan that led to the setting up of a village sports academy which specialised in two sports — handball and boxing. This outlet was the opportunity that Parveen grabbed and has never looked back once since then. Along with the academy, Sudhir Hooda helped immensely in shaping her career. He provided her with the necessary equipment at a time when Parveen's family was short on money and was her support system throughout the initial years of training. He even convinced her father to continue supporting Parveen despite her being beaten up badly in a local boxing bout.
Parveen has had her fair share of failures in the boxing ring as well with a particular one being the exclusion from the Youth Nationals in 2018. This was owing to her weight that made her ineligible to compete. Despite subsequently making it to the nationals, it was difficult for her to establish herself as a national level boxer eligible to compete in foreign tournaments. However, her talent and hard work kicked and in 2019, a year on from the weight class debacle, she won a silver medal at the Presidents Cup in Kazakhastan.
There is a long way to go for Parveen who has kicked off her World Boxing Championships career with a stellar performance. One can hope that continues her brilliant momentum in the run-up to the Olympics as well.