Lovelina Burgohain had to settle for a bronze medal in the 69kg division at the Worlds. But it was a tough-fought one. In her first appearance at the Championships stage, she shattered the dreams of 2014 World Champion Atheyna Bylon and 2016 World silver medalist Kaye Scott of adding another title to their names.
Burgohain came with a dream to bag a gold but she definitely knows the worth of her bronze in the highly competitive tournament. “It feels good to leave with a bronze medal, but not great because I had trained for the gold medal. But, it is okay, I am happy, as there are other good players who do not have it,” she says.
The bronze, after all, has not only earned recognition to the 23-year-old from Assam, but has also helped her forget the scars of the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games, where she lost a tight 3-2 split decision to England’s Sandy Ryan, the eventual gold medalist.
Though the fresh bruises on her nose and cuts on lips will take a couple of days more to heal. The pain of the jabs, she says, is slightly felt. “Jeetne ke bad pain feel nahi hota, haarne k bad hota hai (The punches do not hurt if you win, but they do on a defeat).”
Burgohain, who started off as a Muay Thai, has made a number of sacrifices on her half to carve out a niche for herself in boxing, the least of which was her waist length hair and staying close to her family, the toughest one. But as she hears the crowd, cheering for her, it all seems worth it to her. “Here, as I hit a punch, the crowd celebrates there. All I hear in the stadium is India India, and it feels great that all these people are with me.”
Debuting in the seniors two years back, she has won a gold medal at the inaugural edition of the India Open, silver medal at the Ulaanbaatar Cup and bronze medals at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championships and the President’s Cup. Burgohain is now probably in the best shape of her career and has to deliver on her own expectations by getting better each day, as she pens down in her personal diary.
And on the course of doing so, she takes the lesson from the legend herself. “Ring mai mar kar aao, lekin haar kar mat aao,” she is being told by Mary Kom.
The second bronze medal for the country was won by another first-timer at Worlds, Simranjit Kaur, in the 64kg weight category. Despite having won a bronze medal at the 2013 Junior Worlds, she lived in anonymity and so returning without a medal from Delhi was not an option for her.
She lost to Asian championships medalist Dan Duo of China in the semi-final match, which Simranjit and her coaches thought would go in her favour.
“The bout was a 50-50 contest and could have weighed any side. But it is okay,” she says disappointedly after her semis defeat. But later, she appreciates herself for returning with at least a bronze. “It is a huge thing to return with a medal. It is just a start and I look forward to only improve from here.”
Simranjit is always accompanied by her mother to all the tournaments. It was her mother, a kabaddi player herself, who wished her daughter to be a boxer though Simranjit was more leaned towards studies. “Mummy always wanted me to be a boxer, I never. Lekin jab boxing start kiya, tab to boxing se hi pyar ho gaya (I fell in love with boxing once I started off),” she signs off with a smile.