Nandini Sen, 19, wasn't a fan of boxing — till she watched Mary Kom punch and jab her way to a bronze medal at the London Olympics. Now, the Delhi University student can't wait to put on a pair of gloves and enter the ring.
She's not the only one. Young girls in the Capital have caught the Mary bug, and boxing academies are seeing a sudden and massive jump in enrollments.
"I have made enquiries about boxing classes in my neighbourhood gym. I wasn't interested but ever since Mary Kom made it popular, I want to learn it," says Sen.
"Since Mary Kom's Olympic feat, boxing has become popular with women," says Rakesh Thakran of the Indian Boxing Federation on Panchkuian Road. "There's been a 25-30% increase in enrollments. We have three categories in the age groups 12-16, 16-18 and 18 and above, and the sport is gaining popularity across age groups."
Kamal Yadav, secretary, Gurgaon District Women's Boxing Association, reports "an 80% increase in the number of women joining boxing". He says, "Women have realized it is a good self-defence technique as well."
At the Talkatora stadium, a three-month amateur boxing course comes for Rs. 300.
"We have followed Mary Kom ever since she won the world championship (her fifth title came in 2010). My daughter Vaishali, 15, has also always been interested. But after Mary entered the Olympic quarterfinals, we got her enrolled for boxing classes. Her coach will now come home every evening after she's back from school," says Babli Yadav.