Sports India Exclusive:Manju Rani: I have won over relatives who weren’t initially supportive of my boxing career

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Indian boxing is currently riding through a time of extreme highs. 9 Indian boxers have qualified for the Olympics. Two male Indian boxers medalled at the world championships for the first time ever earlier this year.

Last year, four female boxers medalled at the AIBA women’s world championships held in Russia. The Sports India Show had the chance to talk with last year’s world championship medalist Manju Rani.

20-years old Manju Rani won the silver medal at the 2019 AIBA women’s world championship held in Ulan-Ude, Russia.

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1.) How are you doing currently under lockdown? Are you able to train?

I am staying indoors during this lockdown, spending time with my family, playing games, cooking. 

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I am also able to train at home as my coaches keep sending me a different training schedule every week.

2.) You won a silver medal at the world championships last year, it was the best medal won amongst all the boxers that participated in that event. However, you won the medal in the light flyweight division which is a non-Olympic weight class. Is that the reason why you didn’t appear for the Olympic qualifiers?

No, personally my target was always the 2024 Olympic games. The reason being, I didn’t feel like I was fully prepared to appear for the Olympic trials for Tokyo 2021. 

I felt like that if I went to the Olympics, I should be going there fully prepared and bring a medal for my country.

3.) At any point, did it occur to you that you should move up in weight class for a chance to fight at the Olympic game since you also won a medal at the world championships?

No, because, I won the Silver medal at the World Championships in the light flyweight division (48kg) and I needed to move up to 51kg category (flyweight). So I am more accustomed to the light flyweight category and I still needed time to get used to the 51kg category.

It’s also important to note that six-time world champion MC Mary Kom competes in the 51 kg category. She has already qualified for the Tokyo Olympic games and this will also be her last ever Olympics. She turns 38 this year and the age limit for the Olympics is 40.

4.) How has life changed after you won a medal at the World championships? How is your family dealing with the spotlight?

Earlier I had nothing. But with my boxing, I have gained a lot of respect in the community along with self-confidence. There were instances in my career, where I felt like simply leaving boxing, but with this medal, I have gained self-belief. This will help me in preparation for future events.

My family members are very supportive especially my mother. She is very happy and has supported me throughout. Even the family members that didn’t support my boxing career have come around and are now cheering for me.

5.) You are only 20-years old, you are pursuing BSc as well, how do you manage studies with boxing?

Usually, I study in the camp itself. I go back to give exams and my teachers keep sending me notes and the topics that I don’t understand, I call them and they help me with my studies. My teachers have also been highly supportive of my boxing career.

6.) Which tournament are you targeting next? 

The next tournament on my radar is the Commonwealth Games, which will take place in 2022. My participation isn’t fully confirmed but that’s the tournament that I will be preparing for next.

The next Commonwealth Games will take place from 17th July 2022 in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

7.) You also train under Mr. Leeladhar and Mr. Rajkumar (sports director at LPU). How do you manage your time training under them and national camp?

Usually, I train at the national camp in Patiala, and when I go back to give exams and fulfill my academic criteria’s I train under the sports director at LPU.

8.) Is there any boxer that inspired you to take up boxing or any personality that you look up to?

Yes, I am very much inspired by Mary Kom and Vijender Singh. Both boxers have achieved so much in their career. Training with legends like Mary Kom is a morale booster for me. I watch her closely during training and she also gives us training instructions and guides us while in camp.

Mary is very humble she takes time to give us tips and she also motivates us to train hard.

9.) This year a record 9 boxers qualified for the Olympics, why do you think that happened, are Indian boxers being provided with better facilities or is there any other reason?

Yeah, the facilities have improved tremendously and the boxing federation of India has also been helping us every step of the way and are taking care of our needs.

Our coaches have also improved. We have coaches coming from outside to train us and boxers are also being sent to Italy and other countries to train properly and boxers are also playing their part and training hard.

8.) Of all the boxers that have qualified for the Olympics who do you think will bring a medal for India?

Well everyone has trained well and we can’t tell before had as to who can win the medal, there are various factors. 

What I can surely tell you is that boxers will win more medals at the Tokyo Olympics than any other Olympics.

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