‘Our Boxers Brought Us Glory; But Better Infra Needed At Grassroots’

Bhumi Dabral, a young boxer from Lucknow, is ecstatic about the recent gold haul by Indian women boxers at World Championship and hopes to achieve similar feat. Her views:

I come from a family of boxers and it brought me immense joy and pride when four Indian female pugilists bagged Gold Medals at the recent World Boxing Championship in New Delhi. Each of those final matches filled us with such adrenaline rush that I cannot describe the feelings in words. These champions have raised the bar for all the budding boxing talent across the country.

My father has been a district level boxer who had to quit the sports due to a near-fatal injury. However, he encouraged his children to put on the gloves and enter the boxing ring. Now, we wish to realise his dreams by bringing Gold and glory to the country.

Apart from my father, I drew a lot of inspiration from former world champion and Padma Bhushan awardee Mary Kom. Her biopic which featured Priyanka Chopra, was so moving that after watching it, my interest and commitment to boxing scaled up to the next level.

Right now, the atmosphere for sportsperson, men or women, in India is very supportive. Under the current regime at the Centre, all sports are being promoted, and adequate infrastructure and training are being provided to boost our performances at international level. Private participation and sponsorship have also increased, which makes it feasible for sportspersons to remain in the game, literally. Such committed efforts were reflected in the achievements of our sportspersons in the Tokyo Olympics and other global tournaments of late.

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Having said that there is still much more which requires to be done, especially at the grassroots level. The facilities for boxers at the entry level leave scope for improvement. I can tell you from my own experiences that prejudices still exist in the field of sports and many a promising talent fall off mid-way due to favouritism, politics and other negative issues. This is not limited to boxing but also prevalent in rising sports like badminton and established sports like cricket.

Dabral with her coach Douglas Shepherd

I have taken part at the state- and national-level trials, so I know I have miles to go before I can make my presence felt on the boxing scenario. But the journey has begun on a solid footing and I have been well supported by my coach and mentor in Lucknow.

Not all are similarly lucky. My own brother had fallen prey to certain ‘wrong doings’ and decided to represent another state. His sole aim is to serve the country as a sportsperson; a boxer can take punches on his/her chin and still move on with pride.

We, as a boxing family, always try to assist budding boxers as far as we can but things could be better if the organisational chain starting from the Centre till the district-level is made accountable and transparent in functioning, selection and sponsorship.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s personal conversations with our medal winners fill us with inspiration. His direct phone calls to sportsperson during Olympics and personal interaction with women boxers lately makes us strive for similar achievements. I am confident that Modiji’s interest in sports will help weed out the politics from sports.

As told to Rajat Rai

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