Talented and skillful boxer, Ankushita Boro, the darling of the local crowd in Guwahati, won gold in the Women’s Light Welter category at the AIBA Women’s Youth World Boxing Championships in Guwahati on Sunday evening.
Ankushita was on a roll and in good form when she took on Russia’s Ekaterina Dynnik at the Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium at Sarusajai in Guwahati.
India’s young women boxers saved the best for the last as they demolished every opponent that came their way on Sunday evening to claim five gold medals in the AIBA World Women’s Youth Boxing Championships.
With two women having written their names on two bronze medals a couple of days earlier itself, this became the country’s best ever performance in a world boxing event. It also proved to be the biggest haul in the championship, followed by Russia (2 gold, 4 silver) and Kazakhstan in that order.
“It is a momentous occasion for the country. These girls have made all of us extremely proud,” BFI president Ajay Singh said.
“I would like to congratulate each of them for their success. I know exactly how hard they have worked for is. There is no doubt in my mind that they are our future superstars. I am happy to announce a cash award of Rs 2 lakh for each of the winners on behalf of the Boxing Federation of India,” he added.
The strategy panned out by India’s high-performance director Rafaele Bergamasco was plain and simple for the observant fans: “Keep it simple, keep it fast and keep and keep it furious. Spare no quarter, give none.”
Right from the first bout of the day when Nitu crossed swords with Kazakhstan’s Urakbayeva Zhazira, to Nitu, Sakshi, Shashi and the new Indian boxing pin-up girl from Assam, Ankushita Boro; the Indian women’s strategy was ‘Mission Demolition’.
The Indian boxers stuck to the brief and remained in a fast and furious mode all through the evening. They attacked in short bursts, slipping in punches with lightning speed before moving out of harm’s way in a flash.
It was Nitu who first set the roped square on fire in the opening bout with a dapper performance, mixing caution with aggression no sooner than the first round began in the flyweight bout against her Kazakh opponent.
She looked to be a boxer on a mission as she pummeled Zhazira with such ferocity that the crowd in the packed stands went into a tizzy.
If she picked quite a few brownie points in the first round, she stepped on the gas in the next two, exhibiting confidence, ducking and weaving every time she waded into her opponent. She used her body like a whiplash, releasing a barrage of punches each time she leaned back to ward off Zhazira’s charge. At the end, there was no denying that Nitu had done enough to pocket the gold.
The commanding performance by Nitu, backed by a vociferous crowd support, got Jyoti’s adrenalin pumping. The doughty pugilist got them on their feet as she unleashed a flurry of fierce punches, surprising her opponent Ekaterina Molchonova of Russia.
“It was not so difficult for me. Compared to the semifinal, this bout was an easy affair. I am now focused on the 2018 Youth Olympics,” an elated Nitu told reporters later.
Jyoti’s intentions were crystal clear, “hit hard, hit fast, slip in, slip out with the same speed and move your opponent around.” The end result was a foregone conclusion as she won with a unanimous decision.
Sakshi and Shashi’s victories were perhaps not as exciting. Though the strategy followed was the same, they were up against more established opponents who were skillful and matched the Indian boxers in all departments. Both bouts were close and it was just the extra punches that they connected in the final bursts of the final round that won them points-decision verdicts.
The toast of the tournament, though, was none other than Ankushita who was at her brilliant best in the final against a really tough opponent. Russia’s Ekaterina had tamed all opposition before her in the tournament with her power, speed and guile which made her a marginal favourite.
But Ankushita was on a roll and was not going to be denied in front of her adoring fans.
The three rounds were a thriller all the way. Neither boxer relented as the onslaught of punches exchanged was a sight to behold. That the Russian often adopted the holding strategy from the second round onwards, sent out a signal that she more than met her match in the final.
Ankushita had class written all over her performance, silken smooth footwork, lightning fast punches, peppering the body and face of Ekaterina even as the latter fought back tooth and nail, but that was as much as she could do as Ankushita raced to a convincing unanimous points decision to also walk away with the ‘Best Boxer of the Tournament’ honours.
The Russian charge was led by the indestructible Anastasiia Shamonova who found a tough opponent in England’s Georgia O’Connor who showed no fear and initially matched Anastasiia punch for punch in the first round and early part of the second before the Russian turned on the heat, throwing punches, be it the hook, jab or the roundhouse or the uppercut to demolish her opponent’s defence for a unanimous points win in the middleweight category to take gold.
Kristina Tkacheva too was in a league of her own, brooking no answer from her Kazakhstan opponent who initially made a fight of it but ended in a whimper.
The only American in the final, Citalli Oritz, kept her defence so compact that her opponent, Nataliya Sychugova simply found it difficult to penetrate her in spite of her height and reach advantage. Citalli also cleverly unleashed the left jab and hook with precision to score points at will for her country’s only gold.