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How father's sacrifice helped boxer Nitu shine in her World Championships debut

Boxer Nitu Ghangas, being deemed as Mary Kom's successor, shines in her World Championships debut where she beat three-time silver medallist Steluta Duta.

Boxer Nitu Ghangas in action (Source: Boxing Federation of India)

Boxer Nitu Ghangas in action (Source: Boxing Federation of India)


Md Imtiaz

Updated: 13 May 2022 3:31 AM GMT

India's legendary boxer Mary Kom skipped the IBA Women's World Championships to set her sight on the Commonwealth Games (CWG) 2022, where she wishes to make her return after the Tokyo Olympics. While the reigning CWG gold medallist looks fit as ever to bring out her best in Birmingham, she is aware that would be posed with a stiff challenge when she will square off against her young rival at the trials for the Games.

At 21, Nitu Ghangas burst into the scene like a young juggernaut and has emerged as Mary Kom's successor in the 48kg category. The youngster from Dhanana village in the Bhiwani district of Haryana has already dazzled on her debut performance at the ongoing World Championships, where she outpunched Romania's — Mary's old rival — and progressed to the second round after winning the bout by 5-0.
A two-time world youth gold-medallist, Nitu has been projected as one of the champion boxers of the future who carries inside the ring a spurt of energy. The southpaw, who is adept with quick shuffling and can inflict impactful, long-range punches, looked effortlessly brilliant against the three-time World silver medallist on Tuesday. While the road to a medal at the World Championships might still look pretty challenging for the 21-year-old, her confidence might be the key for her to progress.
"I know it is my debut World Championships. But that does not mean I am here simply for the experience. A medal is definitely what I will be aiming for," Nitu had told
The Bridge
, before the World Championships commenced in Istanbul, Turkey.

Boxer Nitu with her coaches at the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament (Source: Boxing Federation of India)
The young girl is brimming with confidence particularly after tasting success at the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in February this year where she had won the coveted gold medal on her first outing. "Strandja Memorial was my first international outing as a senior boxer and I could not have asked anything better than this. In my village, girls are barely encouraged to pursue their dreams. This is the dream I have shared with my father," said Nitu.
In fact, Nitu, who started her boxing career in 2012, has faced multiple hurdles in her journey. In her village, girls are pushed to do domestic chores. Her inspiration to take up boxing was fuelled after she came to know about Bhiwani's most celebrated boxer, Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh. But hailing from a conservative family, Nitu's career was built through tough sacrifices.
It was only in 2012 that Nitu decided to take boxing seriously. Her father Jai Bhagwan was so determined to make sure that his daughter leaves no stones unturned that he put his own career on the line. An employee at the Chandigarh Vidhan Sabha, Bhagwan went on leave without pay from his job, returned to Dhanana and started accompanying Nitu to training every day.
"Now I understand how difficult it was for my father to give up everything just to see her daughter flourish. He used to take loans from his friends and colleagues to run the family," said the pugilist. "I started competing in district level and state-level tournaments. But I wasn't getting the desired results in those tournaments. Till 2015, I had not won a single medal and decided to quit the sport. My father, however, showed relentless passion behind my dreams and kept on motivating me," adds Nitu.
In 2015, Nitu caught the eye of renowned boxing coach Jagdish Singh, the tough taskmaster who helped Vijender Singh win the Beijing Olympic bronze medal. Nitu's skills and techniques were honed and she went on to represent the State and won her first Nationals in the same year.
She showed her prowess on the big stages winning gold medals in Youth World Championships in 2017 and 2018, and another gold medal at the Asian Youth Championships in 2018. However, a shoulder injury in 2019, turned out to be a major impediment to her progress. She was out of the boxing ring for two years and her training was further disrupted because of the COVID outbreak.
"My father, who thought he would be back doing his job after settling me down, returned home again this time and accompanied me to the Bhiwani Boxing Club every day for training. He made sure nothing comes between my career," Nitu said.
Nitu recovered from the injury fully in 2021 and after rigorous training, she went on to bag the gold medal in Strandja Memorial. "I am looking forward to doing well in the World Championships now. But as soon as it gets over, my eyes would be set on the Commonwealth Games."
The young boxer will be battling it out for the CWG spot against the six-time World Champion Mary Kom. And we can only expect a mouth-watering contest to unfold when these two forces settle their scores inside the ring.

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