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‘Super Boxing League Provides a Platform to Female Professional Boxers in the Country’

Despite all the challenges, there are still a few boxers, who have battled odds and continue to pursue pro boxing. One name that stands out is Shivani Dahiya. She is among the very few female professional boxers in India. For these boxers, leagues like the Amir Khan backed- Super Boxing League come as a big ray of hope.

Arjit Dabas | News18 Sports

Updated:June 13, 2018, 10:17 AM IST
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‘Super Boxing League Provides a Platform to Female Professional Boxers in the Country’
Shivani Dahiya . (Special Arrangement)
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New Delhi: When Sarita Devi became the first woman boxer to turn professional in January 2017, it was seen as a turning point for female pro boxing in the country. Asian Games bronze medallist and multiple-time Asian champion, Sarita was to be the face of the sport in India.

Her aim was to win an Asian belt within the next six-eight months before going onto World Championships, but what happened was Sarita quit pro boxing less than six months later. She had one professional bout. Similar was the case with Pinki Jangra – another famous name, who had turned pro just a few days after Sarita.

With lack of trainers and promoters, professional boxing has struggled to find a foothold in the Indian market. Vijender Singh remains the face of pro boxing, but even he trains in Europe and has signed a contract with a company based out of UK.

Despite all these challenges, there are still a few boxers, who have battled odds and continue to pursue pro boxing. One name that stands out is Shivani Dahiya. She is among the very few female professional boxers in India. For these boxers, leagues like the Amir Khan backed- Super Boxing League come as a big ray of hope.

Dahiya turned professional in 2017 after her experience in amateur boxing wasn’t good enough. She felt she was a victim of politics and biasness in the system.

“I never really got a fair chance, despite winning medals at the junior level; I wasn’t given any kind of support. I wanted to leave India and pursue professional boxing in Europe, I had given up boxing here and turned to coaching but then Super Boxing League happened and I got a chance to perform,” she says, talking to News18 Sports.

She credits SBL for changing the way boxers and especially female boxers are looked at,

“When it comes to female boxing, people just know Mary Kom. They are so many other talented boxers who do not get any recognition. That is because they are not promoted anywhere, but now with SBL coming in, things are changing. The response to trials this year has been fantastic and that shows people are interested. Even amateur boxers are getting benefitted from this as the associations have started promoting them seeing SBL,” she adds.

Difficult Foray into Boxing

The journey has always been tough for Dahiya, coming from a conservative family in Haryana, she wasn’t supported to pursue boxing and it was only when she started winning medals consistently that her parents reluctantly agreed to let her continue.

The 22-year-old took up the sport initially as a challenge after she was insulted in the ring near her house.

“There was a small boxing gym near my house, so one day I climbed into the ring but was scolded and told that I am not allowed inside the ropes. I felt very insulted and was also really angry, that was the day I decided to take up boxing as a challenge. My friend, who was a boxer in the same gym, encouraged me as well,” Dahiya says.

She does not believe in having long term targets and focuses at one tournament at a time. One major challenge for her has been training regularly, since her coach is based out of Mumbai.

“Boxing is not a sport where you can practice alone; you need a trainer or a coach to stay with you. I am totally depended on him for training. Amateur academies too don’t allow professional boxers to train,”

The advice she has for young boxers is simple: “You need to stay dedicated and stay hungry, the challenges are many but if you have the will power, then it can be done,” she says, signing off.
| Edited by: Arjit Dabas
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