A 10-Min Chat With Boxer Vijender Singh Changed Simranjit’s Future
Simranjit won silver in the women’s 60 kg weight category at the Asian-Oceanian Boxing Olympic Qualifiers in Jordan.
“We don’t learn so much after winning as compared to losing.”
That was Indian boxer Simranjit Kaur after she lost the final bout of the 60kg weight category at the recently concluded Asian-Oceanian Boxing Olympic Qualifiers in Jordan. She settled for a silver, but more importantly, assured herself of a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The statement from the young 24-year-old boxer speaks volume of the journey she made from a village, around 50 kms from Ludhiana in Punjab, to booking an Olympic berth – a feat registered only for the first time by a female boxer from Punjab.
Not new to international success, Simranjit began her career with a bronze medal win at the Youth World Championship in Albena in Bulgaria in 2013. Her next big break came five years later in 2018 when she won her first international gold at the Ahmet Comert International Boxing Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey.
In the same year, she followed it up with a bronze at the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships right in front of the home audience.
Since then, the boxer from Ludhiana has never looked back. In fact, for a place in the Olympic qualifiers, she went past veteran Indian boxer and former Olympian Sarita Devi at the trials held in the national capital last December.
The Accidental Boxer
But boxing was never something Simranjit aspired to do. In fact, she hated boxing while growing up and was afraid to go anywhere near the ring. The fact that her elder sister and her two brothers were already into boxing meant that little Simranjit was also pushed into it.
But the turning point came in 2010 when boxer Vijender Singh visited her village. Vijender had just won bronze at the Beijing Olympics and was the first Indian boxer to win a medal at the Olympics.
A 10-minute interaction with the boxer was all it took for Simranjit to take up the sport seriously.
In the next two years, Simranjit left her mark nationally, winning bronze at the Junior Women National Boxing Championship in 2011. The next year, she bettered her performance to win a silver at the same competition, along with a bronze at the Inter-Zonal Women National Boxing Championship.
Her brightest moment nationally came in 2016 when Simranjit claimed her maiden national crown in 64 kg. She was also adjudged ‘Best Boxer’ in the tournament.
In her early days, Simranjit used to compete in the 48 kg category but slowly she moved onto the 64 kg category, where she tasted most of her international success.
But it was always the Olympics that mattered most for the Punjab boxer and thus she decided to move to the 60 kg category, since 64 kg wasn’t an Olympic weight category.
Survival Outside the Ring
Despite all the successes inside the ring, Simranjit never had it easy outside the ring. But it was her mother’s support that eased the pressure for her. If her siblings pushed her into boxing and Vijender Singh inspired her, it was her mother Rajpal Kaur who kept Simranjit going.
After her father’s death in 2018, Simranjit’s family went through a financial crisis. But Rajpal Kaur never let the financial hit get in the way of her daughter’s boxing dream.
“If not for my mother, I couldn’t have won those medals and come this far,” Simranjeet said in an interview to The Times of India recently.
Life Comes Full Circle
For Simranjit, life has come full circle in this one week. After her father’s death in 2018, she had approached the Punjab government for a job to help her family meet ends. But despite her achievements in the boxing world, she remained jobless. Though, later, she was assured of financial aid earlier this year. And on Monday, it was the same Punjab government which not only felicitated her but also promised her a job if she lands a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, according to the TOI interview.
That just gives Simranjit just another reason to shine bright at the Tokyo Olympics.
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