Boxing sensation Poonam looks to continue unbeaten streak at International tournaments

Excelling at any sport requires hard work, dedication and sacrifice, essential qualities that an athlete reaps the rewards of after many years. For Indian boxer Poonam, she also had to sacrifice a life changing job opportunity to venture into the unknown world of international boxing at the Youth World Championship in Kielce, Poland. Hailing from a humble farmers background in Haryana, Poonam not only chose to follow her passion, but made headlines in boxing news around the world by bringing home a gold medal in the featherweight 57 kg category after defeating Sthelyne Grosy of France. What makes her achievement even more impressive is that Poonam remains unbeaten at the international stage, having won five bouts at the Youth World Championship.

In an exclusive interview with SPOGO, Poonam speaks about her introduction to boxing and taking it up professionally, overcoming challenges, winning gold in Poland, training during the lockdown and future goals.

Q 1) How old were you when you started boxing and what motivated you to take up the sport professionally?

I started playing sports with Basketball but I was introduced to boxing when I was 12 years old. My father used to take me for training in my early days but eventually I told him that I would like to go on my own. Initially, I found it difficult to maintain my interest in boxing, but over time I started enjoying the sport and decided to take it up professionally.

Q 2) How difficult was it for you to decide between Railway trials or going to the Youth World Championship? What made you choose boxing?

I got very confused when my Railway trials and the Youth World Championships coincided with each other, because I was not sure which one to choose. When I asked my family what would be the right decision, I received mixed responses from all of them. It was a stressful period for me and everyone around but eventually my father told me that I should go to the Youth World Championship. He said that an athlete should focus on the sport they have been training for, there would be plenty of opportunities to get a job in the future. That’s what made me choose boxing and I won the gold medal because of that decision.

Q 3) As someone who comes from a village in Haryana, what are some of the challenges you faced in your journey? How did you overcome them?

For any new boxer, they face some challenges with regards to food, access to sports equipment. Getting access to the facilities is also a very big challenge because without it, you cannot progress as a professional boxer. I also faced such problems but everything became a lot easier when I got a bank job. After that, I could afford food, shoes, sporting equipment and I could fully focus on the sport because my other necessities were taken care of. In hindsight, I did not have to sacrifice too much or face many problems in my journey because my sister took care of a lot of things. She asked me if I wanted a job and gave me everything that was required, which is why my sister was the biggest support system. Apart from that, my family also encouraged me to pursue my passion.

Q 4) How was the experience of winning a gold medal at the World Youth Championships? Who are the people who have helped you in your journey?

When I won the gold medal at the World Youth Championship, I was very happy. It was a great feeling to win the gold medal which I would like to dedicate to my coaches, because they have trained me well which is why I have accomplished this feat. I would also like to thank the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) and Khelo India for giving me access to their training center during the lockdown. My family also deserves this medal as they have made me who I am today.

Q 5) How did you continue training during the COVID-19 lockdown? What is your training routine?

Unfortunately, the lockdown has begun again and all the training centers are shut. I have been training at home with my brother on the roof from morning until evening.

Q 6) What is your ultimate dream and aspiration for the future? How do you plan to achieve it?

My plan for the future is to continue going forward like I have at the World Youth Championship. My dream is to represent India at the Olympics and win a gold medal. To accomplish this, I am 100% dedicated to my training, following my strict diet and giving my all.


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