Nitu Ghanghas: From contemplating quitting to punching her way to gold at Commonwealth Games 2022
Nitu Ghanghas produced a commanding show against local favourite Demie-Jade Rezstan to claim the gold medal in the women's 48kg category at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday.
The Indian pugilists, starting from Nitu Ghanghas and right till Sagar, displayed a powerful show inside the ring at the Commonwealth Games (CWG) in Birmingham on Sunday. India bagged three golds and one silver in boxing on the second last day of the quadrennial sporting event. The proceedings kicked off with 21-year-old Nitu producing a commanding show against local favourite Demie-Jade Rezstan to claim the gold medal in the women's 48kg category.
Such was her composure that Nitu didn't allow Rezstan to settle even a bit in the final and eventually won the bout 5-0 by a unanimous decision. "I am extremely happy and to see my country's flag on the top was one of the greatest feelings," Nitu told hindustantimes.com from Birmingham, shortly after Nikhat Zareen won her gold medal match against Northern Ireland's Carly McNaul in the women's 50kg finals.
Nitu, who idolises India's legendary boxer MC Mary Kom, followed a simple funda in the final against the 2019 world championships bronze medallist Rezstan, which was to stick with her coach's guru mantra.
"My head coach Bhaskar Chandra Bhatt sir had told me that since my opponent is shorter she'll attack more and in order to counter that I needed to side step and attack. So I followed the same," she said.
While it was a delight for Nitu and the Indian contingent in Birmingham, the celebrations were even louder in Dhanana, a village in Haryana, the place where the southpaw hails from. "We're extremely happy. Around 300 people had gathered in the house while Nitu's bout was on and since then people are continously visiting and congratulating for my daughter's achievement," a proud Jai Bhagwan, Nitu's father, told hindustantimes.com over the phone on Sunday evening.
The commotion was such that Nitu's mother kept busy throughout the day attending the guests. "I'm very proud. The entire village is commending my daughter for her achievement, not only our village but she has made India proud," she said.
Recollecting Nitu's yesteryears, her mother doesn't shy from calling the Commonwealth gold medallist a naughty kid, who often beat her siblings. "She was very naughty as a child and many times she used to get into fun fights with her siblings, even in school. She was also a bright kid when it came to studies," her mother tells.
Nitu's journey from Dhanana to a podium finish in Birmingham, however, was not very smooth and there was a time when the pugilist had contemplated quitting the sport. Her initial years in boxing was not a fruitful one and that is when Jai Bhagwan stepped in.
"Nitu started boxing in 2012 and she struggled in the first two years. She had then said 'Papa main boxing chhod rahi huun (Papa I want to quit boxing)'. So I asked her what happened, to which she said 'achievement badhiya aa nahi rahe toh kya karoongi boxing khel ke (I'm not being able to achieve anything, I don't think I should do boxing anymore)'
“So I told her that you don't have to quit, I'll make you a strong boxer,” her father recollects.
Jai Bhagwan who was working in Vidhan Sabha, Chandigarh then took a three-year long unpaid leave to focus on Nitu's boxing. She trained under Jagdish Singh, the founder of the Bhiwani Boxing Club (BBC), who has also coached 2008 Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh. "I used to take Nitu to Jagdish sir both in the morning and evening in Bhiwani, which is 20km away from our village. I also used to help her train for an hour during the day at home," he added.
Nitu has since went on to add numerous accolades under her name. The big ones apart from the CWG gold on Sunday are a gold at Strandja Memorial Tournament in Bulgaria earlier this year. A gold in the Youth Women World Championships in Budapest in 2018, a gold in Youth Women Nationals in Rohtak in the same year apart from many others.
Now after wrapping the CWG on a high, Nitu is focused to do even better in the upcoming tournaments. "Whatever tournament comes in the future, I'm planning to train for it with more focus and more hardwork than I did for CWG," the 21-year-old boxer said.