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Nitu Ghanghas, The New Champion Boxer From Bhiwani

22-year-old Nitu bagged the gold medal at the 2023 Women's Boxing World Championships in New Delhi.

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Boxing
4 min read
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Hindi Female

Nitu Ghanghas is from the Bhiwani district in Haryana, a region known for harnessing boxers over the years. It is the mini Cuba in India. Spotted by renowned coach Jagdish Singh, the founder of the Bhiwani Boxing Club, she was born to wear big gloves and chase medals.

And on 25 March, 2023 she fulfilled her destiny by winning her first World Championship gold, beating Asian Championship bronze medallist Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg of Mongolia 5-0 in the 45-48kg category final.

The southpaw was untested in top-flight boxing until last year when she won gold medals at the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham in her division. The story was much the same at the World Championships in New Delhi where she recorded three victories by Referee Stops Contest (RSC) verdicts in the run-up to the final. 

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22-year-old Nitu bagged the gold medal at the 2023 Women's Boxing World Championships in New Delhi.

Nitu Ghanghas won her 2023 World Championships gold medal match with a 5-0 scoreline

(Photo: BFI)

How Nitu Became a Force

Nitu was notorious as a kid and would often get into fights at school. Her father, Jai Bhagwan, realised boxing was a better channel to use aggression and energy. She started boxing at 12, and in two years, she stunned the fraternity by bagging a medal at a state-level competition in Haryana before a pelvic injury threw her out of the ring for a few months.

Bhagwan, an employee at the Haryana Rajya Sabha in Chandigarh, took an unpaid leave of three years to take care of her sporting requirements besides training and diet. He took a loan of six lakh rupees and farmed on his land to make ends meet.

Nitu joined Bhiwani Boxing Club, popular as BBC, during her graduation days at Sri Guru Gobind Singh College. She would travel 40 km daily on her father's scooter to master the sport that tests resistance, reflex and mental strength apart from power.

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Nitu comes from a conservative family. Taking up sports was a huge challenge, and Bhagwan's unemployment meant a dent in the finances. But there was no stopping the father-daughter duo. Her father's sacrifices turned her into a woman of steel in the ring. She was determined to be the best in the business.

The Path to Limelight, and Mary Kom

Nitu climbed through the ranks after clinching the twin gold medals in light flyweight at the World Championship — in New Delhi and Hungary — in 2017 and 2018 in her youth career. Later, she became the Asian and Indian youth champion.

However, injuries to shoulder and wrist kept disrupting her growth before the pandemic caused further roadblocks.

An ardent fan of Olympic champion Mary Kom, Nitu would watch her videos to imbibe the footwork, defence and focus. Since Mary is a southpaw, it became easy for the youngster to read her movements on the court and model her game on the Manipuri stalwart.

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Closer to Dreams

Since Nitu had already proved her prowess with the gloves in Sofia, she received a call-up for the Commonwealth Games trial, where she met her idol Mary in the semifinal. Unfortunately, the bout ended abruptly since the legendary boxer injured her knee a minute into the fight. 

It counted as a victory for Nitu. But she was disappointed she could not test herself against the seasoned campaigner. She wanted to play the whole match against Mary to sharpen her skills.

She outplayed former world championship silver medallist Manju Rani in the final to book a berth in the Birmingham Games, where she was at her ruthless best. English boxer Demie-Jade Resztan, a former world championships bronze medallist, surrendered to her blows in the final in the 48kg category.

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22-year-old Nitu bagged the gold medal at the 2023 Women's Boxing World Championships in New Delhi.

India's Nitu Ghanghas poses with her gold medal after emerging winner in the women's over 45-48kg at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham on Sunday.

(Photo: PTI)

A Promising Future

At just 22, Nitu certainly has age on her side, and with proper training and goals, she could box her way into the big league. 

She was unstoppable in the World Championship as all her first three matches ended with RSC (Referee Stops Contest) with her opponent pugilists not able keep up to her swift movements and jabs.

Nitu does a thorough research about opponents before the bouts and has the capability to tweak her game as and when the situation demands. She likes playing long range but can get close at her will. 

Her biggest challenge will be the Paris 2024 Olympics. And now that Mary will not compete, there will be stiff competition for the 50kg spot. 

Nitu has to go up in the weight category to compete in the Olympics, and the pool will get challenging with Nikhat Zareen in the mix. It should not be a threat as boxers from Bhiwani are fearless.

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