Pooja Rani was crowned the Asian Champion in Women's 74kg weight division yesterday after she defeated Mavluda Movlonova of Uzbekistan by a unanimous decision at the ongoing ASBC Asian Boxing Championships 2021 in Dubai.
Having already qualified for the upcoming 2020Tokyo Olympics, Pooja displayed some clinical punching skills at Dubai to win her second successive continental gold medal. The 30-year-old now boasts of a total of four Asian Championships medals to go with her bronze at 2014 Asian Games in Incheon.
Hailing from the Nimriwali village of Bhiwani district in Haryana, Pooja started boxing late in life. Even though her journey to the top has been rapid, it has never been easy due to the restrictions placed on her by her family.
Pooja took up boxing while she was in the first year of her college on the insistence of the wife of one of her professors just because of her tall frame. But, Pooja was uncomfortable wearing the boxing gloves. She asked her professor's wife to wear it first and when she did, Pooja automatically followed.
Though she immediately felt at home with gloves in her hand, convincing her family was hard. Her policeman father was strictly against her daughter pursuing a combat sport like boxing, as he considered it to be an aggressive sport and could not risk his daughter being grievously injured.
But, Pooja kept playing just because of her love for the sport. She would also stay back at her coach's or friend's place for a couple of days if she got injured or got bruises on her body, so that her parents do not come to know about it and stop her from boxing.
This went on for almost six months before she won her first National Youth Boxing Championship in the 60kg weight division in 2009. It was only after her first national title that her parents allowed her to continue with the sport.
Pooja has grown heaps and bounds since and has quite certainly established herself as one of the finest women pugilists in the country, despite a couple of dangerous injuries she had to encounter in the year 2016 and 2017.
Ever since her comeback from the shoulder injury in 2017, Pooja has been at the top of her game-winning gold medals at the 2019 and 2021 Asian Boxing Championships.
Having already booked her slot for the 2020 Olympics, Pooja Rani will surely enter Tokyo as one of India's best medal hopes in the sport of boxing.