"Wanted to show Mary Kom my game," says CWG-bound boxer Nitu with big shoes to fill
Hailed as Mary Kom's successor, young boxer Nitu has earned her maiden ticket for the 2022 CWG, after facing off against the 6-time World Champion in the semi-finals of the boxing trials.
There is no denying the nerves that one must feel before taking on heavy favourite and 6-time boxing World Champion Mary Kom in any bout. But for young pugilist Nitu, with eyes full of dreams, the nerves had steeled when she knew she had to face the legendary boxer at the trials for the 2022 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi.
Flash forward to the final day at the Indira Gandhi Stadium, Nitu, is on cloud nine, still in disbelief on having sealed her berth for the Commonwealth Games in the women's 48kg category, the pet category of the 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist, Mary Kom, who could not finish her semi-final bout against Nitu, crashing out of the trials, injured. Nitu's hard work has paid off and she is ready to step inside with a CWG medal on her sight.
On Day 2 of the boxing trials for the Commonwealth Games, Nitu was however experiencing quite the opposite emotions, minutes before going up against Mary Kom. She knew it would be difficult but the youngster from Dhanana village in Haryana isn't one to shy away from challenges and the nervous jitters also took a backseat - she was determined to win.
"I was not nervous. I wanted to box against Mary Kom and show my game," Nitu chirped, having sealed her place in the Commonwealth Games squad after defeating Manju Rani 5-2 in the finals.
"She (Kom) is a big, big player and it was an honour playing against her," Nitu recounted, well aware of the expectations now heaped on her, as she will be representing India in Mary Kom's staple category at Birmingham.
Barely thirty seconds had lapsed in the ring with Mary and Nitu going all-out against each other before Kom twisted her knee and fell, during the semi-finals, causing quite the dramatic turn to the proceedings of the trials. Although the 39-year-old pugilist received medical attention immediately, she was unable to continue, leading to Kom having to forfeit the match in the first round itself. Subsequently, Nitu was announced the winner via RSCI (Referee Stops Contest due to injury) and booked her date with Manju Rani in the finals today, where she registered a comprehensive 5-2 victory to earn her maiden CWG ticket.
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 Steluta Duta — 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 at the Boxing World Championships, where she showed promise.
For Nitu, who started her boxing career in 2012, she has had to face multiple hurdles in her journey, hailing from a village where 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 coming 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. He even was present during the trials and congratulated her daughter as she made her way through CWG.
With the CWG ticket in her pocket now after a stunning performance in the boxing trials, surely all the sacrifices are now being paid off as Nitu keeps growing and going from strength to strength, led by a steely will to win, no matter what.