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Tale of grit & success: Boxer Nitu living father’s dream


Express News Service

There is a deep bonding between father and daughter. Whatever she does, she has to share with her father. During training, after  matches or just like that… she needs to speak with him. Like the father says, “She has to share her mind and I have to be there to  help.”

Nitu Ganghas was born in the fabled nursery of boxing, Bhiwani, and grew up learning about champions like Vijender Singh. Her father, Jai Bhagwan, realising her inclination towards sports, literally, had to beg and borrow to kick-start her boxing dream. A bill messenger in the secretariat in Chandigarh, Bhagwan’s means are limited. Because of Nitu’s needs, especially his presence to share her emotions, he has been forced to take long leaves. “Leave without pay was the only way,” he told The New Indian Express.

When Nitu marched into the semifinal to ensure a medal for India at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, there was joy and relief. Years of tears, sweat and sacrifices have transformed into something beautiful. Ever since Nitu took up boxing, the young southpaw from Haryana, has grappled with so many challenges that pain inside the ring could hardly hurt her.

Due to limited means, Nitu’s family had to delve deep to support her. She took up the sport in 2012 and her first lessons  under famed coach Jagdish Singh at the Bhiwani Boxing Club (BBC). However, it was a painful start for her. Due to intense  competition, she failed to prosper and was down the pecking  order. She started doubting her adolescent mind. “It was difficult in the beginning,” recalls her father. “She was not winning any medals at the state level for three years or so while there were others in her age group who were thriving at the  national level. That was when she was really thinking of  quitting.”

While some of them had lost faith in young Nitu, Jai Bhagwan  continued to back her. “I told her ‘you have already worked so hard, you have to keep persisting’.  She used to train with boys and she could hit really hard. No one had felt she could go on to do what she has been doing right now.” Though backing Nitu was an easy decision, but Jai Bhagwan was struggling to meet her expenses. That forced him to take multiple loans from friends and family. At times he was under immense pressure to pay off those loans on time too. “I had to sell my swift (car) to clear  loans in 2012. It was difficult,” he said.

Because of her daughter’s needs, Jai Bhagwan was forced to take unpaid leave for the last four years and has been put on notice for long absence. “In the last four years, I have gotten just one salary (seven months ago). I can’t go regularly since I have to look after Nitu’s needs. She is always in touch with me and  shares whatever is going through her mind, in regards to  training and bouts.”

To make matters worse, Nitu also suffered a freak accident in  2015. At first, the family didn’t give much attention to the injury, hoping that the pain will subside. But later, an X-ray would reveal that she had suffered a fracture in her pelvic  region. Since there was limited facility in Bhiwani, she was  taken to Delhi for treatment. “She won’t complain. She had learnt to endure pain,” Jai Bhagwan said. Nitu, who competes in 48kg category, was so impressive that her opponent, Nicole Clyde of Northern Ireland, could only last six minutes and was  forced to concede that match.

After the bout, Nitu was visibly delighted as she was whisked away by the coaches at the ringside as she now looks to improve  the colour of her medal.

A gold medal in School Games (Gwalior) in 2016 was just the spark that the father and daughter duo needed. The very next year, Nitu struck gold — literally and metaphorically. After acing the trials, she had become a world youth champion in Guwahati. That victory not only added belief in Nitu, it also aided the family financially. Cash prizes and recognition after that event meant Jai Bhagwan’s struggles with money were over.

That success was followed by another gold in the Asian Youth Championships in 2018. The Olympic Gold Quest (OGQ) also took her under their wings and have been supporting her since.

Just as things were looking rosy and when it seemed like she was set to cement her spot at senior ranks, she suffered an injury. She had to put her senior aspirations on hold and spend time in the medical room in Chennai in late 2019. And then with the Covid-19 pandemic, she had to be patient on the sidelines. That’s when the father and daughter improvised and commenced training on the fields in her village. Using the hoe, she would dig the earth to improve her strength and do other forms of exercises to remain battle-ready.

Going the extra mile helped as she won the national championships at the end of 2021 to return to senior national camp. In 2022, she won her first senior international gold at the famed Strandja Memorial meet in Sofia, Bulgaria. Just two months or so later, she took part in her first senior World Championships, where she had just fallen short of a medal.

Having aced the national trials, where she met MC Mary Kom, someone she looks up to, Nitu is now on path to emulate the latter and script another high in her fascinating journey so far.

Hussamuddin enters semis
Mohammed Hussamuddin secured his second successive medal at the CWG with a fighting win over Namibia’s Tryagain Ndevelo 4-1 to enter men’s 57kg semifinals. Husamuddin had won bronze in the 2018 edition.

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