Bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain rises as the underdog at Tokyo Olympics
Punching above her weight with more strategy than power, Lovlina Borgohain rises as the underdog and wins India a bronze medal in her debut outing at the Olympics.
For someone who was oblivious to the world of boxing even less than a decade back, Lovlina Borgohain has come into the scene and achieved more than she would have chanced herself to believe as a teenager growing up in Golaghat, Assam.
A former Muay Thai practitioner, Lovlina, as the youngest of three sister-siblings, got interested in boxing after seeing her twin sisters, Licha and Lima take up kickboxing and followed the same trail before Padum Boro spotted the talent in this feisty youngster.
At the Tokyo Olympics, Lovlina Borgohain entered as the most unassuming candidate for a medal - there was no such hype as one is generally seen to skirt around Manipur's MC Mary Kom.
For the 2-time World Championships bronze medallist, Lovlina Borgohain wasn't really the talk-of-the-town before the Tokyo Olympics and she went in as an underdog looking to punch above her weight! And punch, she did - proving every nay-sayer, every critic wrong with her skills and making her way to a bronze medal in her debut Olympics.
Meaning business from the get-go, Lovlina came into the pre-quarters of the Women's Welterweight (64-69 kg) bout and faced off against Germany's Nadine Apetz at the Kokugikan Arena.
Even though the encounter got tense, Lovlina wasn't one to relent and edged past Apetz, 3-2, to storm into the quarters and book a date with her most formidable opponent, Chinese Taipei's Nien-Chin Chen. Earlier, Lovlina had confessed to finding Chen as her most demanding opponent and how she would psychologically haunt her.
Playing with tact and strategy rather than muscle power, Lovlina Borgohain employed her cunning to box her way into the semi-finals of the Tokyo Olympics and secured a bronze medal for India, overcoming her fears and handing a 4-1 defeat to the World No. 2, Chen.
Confirming the medal tally at 3 so far at the ongoing Games, Lovlina Borgohain brought a top-notch debut campaign to an end as she went down fighting to the reigning World Champion, Turkey's Busenaz Surmeneli, who is also the current World No. 1.
Slaying demons, one punch at a time
Even though Lovlina Borgohain may have entered the Tokyo Olympics without a lot of paparazzi glare, Borgohain's story is an inspiring one. Living in a country where being born a girl still earns the occasional 'tch,tch' from society, being an athlete is no easy job.
Aside from taking on the opponent inside the boxing ring, the gambit of the Indian girl-boxer is often a larger arena - with the society always at odds against you.
Hailing from the sparsely-populated, little-known village of Baromukhia in Golaghat district of Assam, Lovlina's parents had to sidestep the constant jeers hurled at them for being a family with no sons.
Earning a lot of ill-comments because a son was missing from the picture, Tiken and Mamoni Borgohain instilled the sense of purpose from a young age in all their three girls - Licha, Lima and Lovlina to prove their critics wrong.
Not one to fail the word, Lovlina, who would even help out her father with farming on the paddy field during the lockdown period. "Working in a paddy field is not a new thing for her. She has been doing this for a long time.
We have told her to not do it but she says it helps her to stay connected with the roots," Tiken Borgohain had told India.Today.In.
Lovlina's preparations for Tokyo had taken a minor setback when her mother, Mamoni had to undergo a kidney transplant in February, 2021 and ushered in a lot of sleepless nights for the champion boxer.
However, Lovlina kept her head straight and battled past those worries as well and set her sights on Tokyo where she determined she must give her very best.
Towering at 5'11", Lovlina Borgohain took to the stage of the Tokyo Olympics and shook it up - with quality punches and the ripples of it were felt in India, as well. Her state - Assam, sat up and took notice, the whole country was jolted awake as Borgohain hit out - left, right and centre, with a calm confidence, admirable for an Olympic debutant.
Returning with a bronze to show off now, Lovlina Borgohain, with the buzz-cut hair and spunky swagger, will be one to watch out for as she has already taken a head start in the history books - before anybody could see her coming in.
Following in the steps of Mary Kom, Lovlina Borgohain will only hope to continue the legacy of boxing in India and tow it to greater, unprecedented heights - no more as the underdog, but as the raging favourite.