Boxers from Haryana, Punjab don't take us seriously: Gujarat boxer
Local boxer Paramjit Kaur, who made an impressive start to her National Games campaign, says her state is lagging behind in combat sports because of a dearth of coaches.
Ahmedabad: Haryana, currently placed second in the National Games medal tally, has always dominated the boxing scenario in India. When boxers from other states try to make their mark at the national level, that's when we realise the lack of a grassroots culture of the sport in most other parts of the country.
21-year-old Paramjit Kaur from Surat, Gujarat who plays in the Welterweight category (63-66Kg), defeated Tamil Nadu's S Pragathi in her opening bout at the ongoing National Games. Speaking to The Bridge after her win, she complained how boxers from the Haryana region do not respect boxers like her.
"Everyone takes Gujarat lightly when it comes to boxing. We don't have a lot of facilities here, and people from Haryana, Punjab don't take us seriously," she said.
"At the All India University Games earlier this year, I defeated a boxer from Punjab in my first bout. That's what broke my mental barrier and gave me confidence. The few of us from Gujarat who are coming up realised we too could shine on the national stage," she added.
Talking about Gujarat's sports facilities, Paramjit said the state is doing well in sports like Chess and Tennis, but is lagging behind in building a culture for combat sports.
"It's not that there's no infrastructure here. We pulled off the National Games in such a short span of time. There's nothing this state cannot do, but we just need the right direction," she said.
'My mother doesn't let me eat with my own hands'
In the absence of a culture, Paramjit's route to get to the boxing arena at the national level has relied heavily on the support of her widowed mother, and the coach who she was lucky to find.
She started the sport when she was 16, thanks to her coach Jay Solanki, who identified her in a school event and started training her without taking any fees. This coach, hailing from a family of boxers, gives such training to upcoming boxers despite having a day job as a clerk in a school in Surat.
"At home, my mother doesn't even let me eat with my own hands, she just wants me to succeed and focus on my sport," said Paramjit.
Having lost her father at a very young age, Paramjit has always lived with her mother, who has taken care of her by doing odd jobs like selling sarees door to door.
"Being a part of the SAI Centre of Excellence (COE), I do get some exposure but there's still a lot to do because of lack of coaches here. I have been part of nine nationals and have always reached at least the quarterfinals with whatever training I could manage till now," she said.
A medal at the National Games could help Paramjit land a job to make things better for her family.