Young Maharashtra pugilist achieves new heights

Gautam Buddha Nagar: Maharashtra’s promising 2021 youth world boxing champion Alfiya Pathan and sports ministry flagship event–Khelo India Games—are synonymous. The Nagpur based 20 years old international boxer’s first appearance was at the Khelo India School Games in 2018, and she won a gold medal in the heavyweight category (plus 81kg).

Six years later, she is competing in the boxing event of the ongoing Khelo India University Games 2022 Uttar Pradesh at the SVSP Sports Complex in Gautam Buddha Nagar.

“The Khelo India Games is an excellent opportunity for those on the fringes as well as established athletes to make an impact,” Alfiya said on the eve of her final match.

After winning her first gold in 2018 Khelo India School Games, Nagpur’s boxing star became eligible for a monthly scholarship of Rs 10,000. “The monthly scholarship is very beneficial to athletes who are still studying and aren’t employed,” Alfiya added.

Representing Nagpur University in the ongoing Khelo India University Games, Alfiya is considered a hot favourite to win a gold medal in her respective weight category. She got a walkover in the semifinals on Thursday and the final is scheduled for June 2.

Alfiya is one of those boxers who has graduated from the youth category to the elite level. Currently she is enrolled at the Sports Authority of India (SAI) Rohtak’s National Centre of Excellence in Haryana.

“There are good sparring partners and facilities at the NCOE in Rohtak,” Alfiya said, adding chief women’s national boxing coach Bhaskar Bhatt heads the boxing coaching staff at the NCOE.

Last year Alfiya also became the first female boxer from Maharashtra to win a gold medal at the ASBC Asian Elite Boxing Championship held in Amman, Jordan.

However, she missed the New Delhi’s 2023 International Boxing Association (IBA) Women’s Boxing Championship held in March. “I lost my quarterfinals bout in the national championship and couldn’t find a place in the national team,” she recalls. “That is the past. I’m more fit and looking ahead to better performance.”

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