‘Aggression’ behind Nitu’s successful run

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Until not so long ago, things seemed to be conspiring against Nitu Ghanghas. Coming from humble beginnings, the Haryana boxer had also faced many hurdles outside the ring after she took up the sport. She had even contemplated quitting the sport before it could take off. But like most success stories, with the support of her family, she persevered.

Coming from the famed Bhiwani Boxing Club (BBC), her talent was unquestionable. She had ticked all the right boxes at the youth level – she’s a two-time world youth champion (2017, 2018). But her transition phase from youth to senior category was far from easy, especially due to injuries (shoulder/wrist). She was out of the picture for a little over a year. She had to be patient. Now, over the last year or so, her perseverance is finally paying off. In the ongoing IBA Women’s World Championships in front of her family and well-wishers in New Delhi, the 2022 Commonwealth Games winner has been one of the standouts.

On Thursday, the 48kg pugilist went one step closer to history books by fighting her way into the final. The southpaw, hailing from a tiny village in Dhanana, was facing a familiar rival in Alua Balkibekova. Balkibekova, who is from Kazakhstan, had stopped her in this very event last year.
And after the completion of Round 1, it seemed like Nitu could suffer a similar fate. But the narrative changed soon. Sensing that she was behind, Nitu was not afraid to be the aggressor. With the crowd egging her on, she surprised Balkibekova with some stinging punches, hits that were enough to get the votes of the four judges by the ringside. She duly did what was needed of her in the final round to script a memorable victory, a win that could prove to be a game-changer.

“I had lost in the split decision and I just wanted to win and I managed to do the same,” Nitu, who won the contest by 5-2 verdict, said. “I had tried to keep some distance and that was my mistake. This time I had planned to play from close range because she prefers to operate from distance.”

Bhaskar’s influence

She has certainly made a big turnaround. One person who has a massive influence in her boxing is national chief coach Bhaskar Bhatt. The two have known each other for a long time. That naturally means they are familiar with each other. Bhaskar was there along with Nitu when she caught eyeballs for the first time during the Youth World Championships in 2017.Nitu was quick to thank the support staff and said that the coach has tweaked her game a little bit, a change that is proving beneficial for her.

“He (Bhaskar Bhatt) knows me very well. He has helped me bring that aggression in my game. I used to play counter and now I have added a little bit of aggression in my game as well,” Nitu said, when asked about what she has been doing differently in the last 12 months or so. That recently-acquired side of her game had helped her end bouts quickly in the earlier rounds – she had recorded three wins by Referee Stops the Contest. In the 2022 CWG, that aggression had helped her corner glory.

Before Bhaskar came into the picture, it was father Jai Bhagwan who had sacrificed a lot. It’s a well-documented fact that it was her father who introduced her to the sport. Bhagwan, an employee in the secretariat in Chandigarh, had taken unpaid leave for three years to ensure that her training was not neglected. It is well-known that he had taken loans to provide her needs. It was her father who enrolled her into BBC, where she worked under renowned coach Jagdish Singh.

Singh was also present here to witness her crunch bodies at will. Bhagwan is more than pleased after his daughter’s latest exploits. He felt her marked improvement is down to hard work behind the scenes. “Bhaskar sir knows him really well, that has proven to be beneficial. She has also had proper training in the national camp,” he said. Come final, Bhagwan would be hoping that the long-standing partnership will go on to claim gold once again after 2017, albeit at the senior level.

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