Nitu Ghanghas: Ready to face Nikhat Zareen for spot in Paris Olympics

CWG gold medal-winning boxer Nitu may have to face Nikhat in the selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers if the latter sticks to 50kg.

Gold medallist India’s Nitu Ghanghas poses for photographs during the presentation ceremony of the women’s 48kg boxing event, at the Commonwealth Games 2022 (CWG) in Birmingham, UK, Sunday, August 7, 2022.

Gold medallist India’s Nitu Ghanghas poses for photographs during the presentation ceremony of the women’s 48kg boxing event, at the Commonwealth Games 2022 (CWG) in Birmingham, UK, Sunday, August 7, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI Photo

CWG gold medal-winning boxer Nitu may have to face Nikhat in the selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers if the latter sticks to 50kg.

After winning her first major title in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, Nitu Ghanghas, the 48kg champion boxer, does not mind taking on World Champion Nikhat Zareen in case they clash for a 50kg spot in the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Nitu may have to face Nikhat, who won the World title in 52kg and the Commonwealth Games crown in 50kg, in the selection trials for the Olympic qualifiers if the latter sticks to 50kg.

Nitu is driven by her self-belief. “She (Nikhat) is an experienced boxer and I will give my 100 per cent. While fighting, I don’t see who is standing in front of me. I focus on my own performance,” Nitu told Sportstar.

“My normal weight stays around 49kg. In order to compete in 50kg, I have to increase my body weight up to 52kg and work on my strength.”

On her Birmingham showing, Nitu said, “Winning the gold medal on my Commonwealth Games debut was special.

“My final bout was tough. My opponent (Demie-Jade Resztan) was a 2019 World championships bronze medallist from the host country. That added to the pressure.”

Overseas camp beneficial

Nitu said the 15-day-long camp in Belfast prior to the Games was beneficial. “My three bouts were with the boxers from Ireland, Canada and England. I had training bouts with them before the event and it gave me an idea about their game.”

The youngster spoke about her good rapport with chief coach Bhaskar Bhatt. “I have been working with him in the camp since 2017, first at the youth camp and then at the senior camp. When Bhatt Sir tells me something during the training, I quickly understand what he is trying to say. Even when he shows a signal, I know what he wants me to do inside the ring. We have a good understanding.”

The 21-year-old said her father, who made a lot of sacrifices to make her a champion boxer, was emotional on seeing her on the victory podium. “When I spoke to my father after winning the gold medal, he said he felt as if he was boxing inside the ring and standing on the podium instead of me and wearing the medal around his neck.”

The homecoming was also memorable for Nitu. “My villagers welcomed me with a lot of fanfare and held a function. They began from Delhi, through Bhiwani up to our village.”

No cheat day

Nitu may have opted for a week’s break from training, but mentally she is focused on boxing and will have no cheat day. “I do not have any cheat days. After the break, I will resume my training at the camp. I don’t feel like having a cheat day as the whole focus all the time is on boxing. I have gotten used to the rigours of training and cutting down my weight.”

Her dedication has helped her overcome odds, including challenges posed by Covid and injuries, and produce good performances.

“I was in the camp when I picked up a left wrist injury in 2019. So I rested my left hand and trained with my right hand. Because of the load, I injured my right shoulder as well. Since I had injuries in both hands, I left the camp and did rehab at home. In 2019 to 2020, I did rest and rehab. In 2020 to 2021, there was Covid and I did not have training partners. At that time, I went to the Bhiwani Boxing Club (run by coach Jagdish Singh) with my father and trained there alone.

“Had I discontinued my training, I would not have performed like this.”

Like her idol Mary Kom, Nitu – who gets motivated by the legendary boxer’s good words about her – wants to achieve more laurels.

“When she spoke about me, it gave me a lot of confidence. It was so good. I feel good during the training due to that and get motivated to work harder.

“I used to watch her bouts, interviews and videos from the start and she is my idol. I always follow her game and will do so in the future. I also want to win more medals for the country,” said Nitu.

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