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"Stubborn" boxer Sonia Lather aiming high amidst numerous hurdles

Stubborn boxer Sonia Lather aiming high amidst numerous hurdles

Sounak Mullick

Published: 14 Jan 2018 11:36 PM GMT
Inequality in the treatment between Men and Women in the field of sports seems to be never-ending, as a disappointed Sonia Lather, who recently won the National Boxing Championships admitted that her Male counterparts still draw the first attention from the Boxing Federation of India. This is one of the main reasons which drive the pugilist from Haryana to toil hard from dawn to dusk, to make everyone realise they should be given equal importance. One of the most underrated Boxers of our country, Sonia has been in top form for the past two and a half years but feels she has more to give for the country, and the upcoming 2018 Commonwealth Games is currently her top priority. The Boxer outclassed world youth champion Shashi Chopra to clinch the National title in Rohtak earlier this month. The Haryana girl made the nation proud when she claimed the Silver medal at the 2016 World Championships, but she was not given her due respect. When she returned to her homeland after the historic feat, there was no one to greet her. Not only that, but she was also not provided with transport to reach home. Imagine the scene at the Airport if the Indian Cricket team had arrived after winning the World Cup!
But the situation has changed a lot in the past couple of years, and it could well be the rise of Women's Boxing in our country as admitted the National Champion. Speaking on the matter, Sonia said, 'Women's boxing is picking up in India, players need tournaments, and they are providing it to them. The more the competitiveness, the more the experience, the more improved the players would become.' 'This federation is working better than the earlier one. Previously, there were hardly four tournaments played, but it has increased now. We will also host the 2018 AIBA Women's World Championships,' added Sonia. The 2018 AIBA (International Boxing Association) Women's World Championships in New Delhi will be the second time India will host the tournament, the other being in 2006. India is also set to host the 2021 AIBA Men's World Championships. In fact, in 2012, the Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) was suspended by the Intentional body because it was not working in a fair way. So, during that time, India was without a Boxing Federation, and pugilists from the country played under the white flag of the International Boxing Association rather than the tri-colour. Four years later, the ban was lifted, and the Boxing Federation of India came into existence. With the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games around the corner, India has a prospective medal contender in the likes of Sonia Mather who will be competing in the 57 kg category. This is the first time the 57 kg category has been included at the Games. 'My target is the 2018 Commonwealth Games, I go step by step, and I don't think I have performed my best in the past few years. But I have tried to improve myself each time,' said the pugilist when she was asked about her feelings about the achievements in the past two to three years. Until her school days, Sonia was a Kabaddi player, but she shifted her loyalties towards Boxing at the age of 18 when she was inspired by Mary Kom and Vijender Singh. She is a very short-tempered person. Another reason to take up boxing as seriously was to control her anger, a decision which was backed her family members. 'In life, I have always done what I wanted. Be it inside the ring or outside, I have taken my decisions on my own. When I train, I follow the instructions of my coach, but when I step into the ring, I only listen to myself, 'confessed the determined 25-year old Boxer from Haryana.
The treatment which is given to the Women in her state and also the entire nation disappoints Sonia. She feels that equilibrium should be maintained and she can start the process by setting herself as an example. 'I motivate myself for performing better in the future. The weak position of Women in India gives me a reason to strive for more success. The condition of Women is not favourable in Haryana as well as the country. It is only when a female athlete achieves something; the country takes notice of it. These inequalities give me a reason to give my best each time,' said the Asian Championships' silver medallist. Preparing individually for the mega event is equally important as spending long hours in training camps. Sonia is precisely doing the same, as she is not too comfortable the way The Federation organises national camps. The constant change in training personnel is hampering the smooth functioning of the coaches and the players. Regarding the mismanagement, she said, 'Our camp is from the 18
, but the problem is with the coaches. They are always shuffled; the coaches who train the Male boxers sometimes take charge of the Women's team and vice-versa. We cannot connect to a coach if they keep on changing. I am still training in the Army Centre, but I don't know about the camp, I am personally preparing myself for the Games.' Though the condition of Boxing has improved over the years, there is still scope for a lot of improvement. It is evident from the words of the National champion herself. Boxing is one of the sports where India has performed well, winning two Olympic medals, one in 2008 and the other in 2012. Hopefully, more Boxers can bring glory to the Nation in the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics 'My target is winning the Gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. There isn't a day in my entire career that I've taken rest during a camp. I am very stubborn, and I get what I want,' signed off Sonia Lather. But she has to wait to fulfil her dream of winning an Olympic medal as the 54kg is not included at the Games. Sonia tried to cut the 60kg category, but she was not successful. She still waits for the day when her desired group will be included in the Olympics, and she will sing the National anthem standing on the podium with the tri-colour waving high!
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