Ludhiana’s boxer girl Simranjit Kaur’s life changed drastically last year when she won gold at the Ahmet Comert International Boxing Tournament in Istanbul, Turkey in the 64kg category. It is only now that Kaur is becoming a known name in her sport and in her category and the media has finally discovered her. This increasing popularity hasn’t been a constant in Kaur’s career but she saw it from afar when her sister, Amandeep Kaur, used to win medals and how journalists buzzed around her to talk to her. Now she is seeing it all happen with her own self and she’s not complaining.
From not being interested in boxing to becoming a profession pugilist
However, Kaur got this life after a lot of struggle and so she displayed a sense of detachment every time she was sent out to training camps across the country and even for tournaments across the globe. Born in a small village of Chakar in the Jagraon Tehsil of Ludhiana district, she actually never showed any interest in the sport. She was good at studies and so becoming a teacher or something to do with academics was what she aspired for in her life. Little did she know as a young child, that her mother was hell-bent in making her a boxer.
“I never even thought of boxing as something that I would do despite the fact that my sister was a boxer. My interest was in academics so I thought that’s where I’ll eventually be. But one day my sister and my mother decided to take me to the ground and made me try out boxing. I really enjoyed it after a few times and so decided to take it up,” Kaur recollects in an interview with SheThePeople.TV.
Kaur was 15 studying in 10th class when she started boxing in 2010 from Sher-E-Punjab sports academy. Her mother’s biggest reason to push her daughters into boxing was that it is an individual game and nobody can really take away the success from boxers, unlike team games. In fact, Rajpal Kaur, Simranjit’s mother herself played Kabaddi while growing up but could never pursue it professionally because of her parents. Sadly, Simranjit or her sister did not receive support from their father when they were starting out in their sporting journey but he got around once she started winning medals and their relatives started to praise her. “My mother used to fight with my father to take me for coaching. He used to ask her to get us to study instead and then wed us off but my mother had more conviction than that,” says Simranjit Kaur.
Kaur’s father worked as a salesman in a local shop in Chakar before passing away last year.
“There were about four to five girls only when I joined training but they all were in a lower weight category than me so I always ended up fighting with the boys. It actually helped me because I built my strength to fight with the boys.”
She is one of the pioneering girls from her village who started boxing and so she didn’t have many girls in her weight category to fight with. “There were about four to five girls only when I joined training but they all were in a lower weight category than me so I always ended up fighting with the boys. It actually helped me because I built my strength to fight with the boys.”
The real journey inside the ring begins
In 2011, Kaur won a bronze medal at the 6th Junior Women National Boxing Championship in Patiala after which she proceeded to join other female boxers in the national camp held at Vishakhapatnam. “When I got an entry in the camp, it was clear to me that now I want to play for the country. I didn’t know much about international tournaments then but I knew one thing, I needed my jersey to say ‘India’,” says Kaur adding that even if it was the first time for her to go so far away from home, it never bothered her. She knew then that she had a purpose and she would give her all to become what her mother always wanted for her.
First international tournament
Her first international bout happened in 2013 in Serbia for the Asian Cup. “I was very excited because I was getting on a plane for the first time and I was going to play for India. It was a great experience to play with boxers of other countries and learn various ring techniques from them,” says Kaur. While she went for several tournaments after that and also won medals for the country, it was only in 2016 that the Indian media recognised her. “It was a big deal for me to become a national champion and my thoughts only revolved around how now I need to work harder and practice more and bring better medals in international championships,” says Kaur. The pugilist has been named senior national champion twice since then.
Her favourite boxer is Amy Brodhurst of Ireland who won successive gold medals in the lightweight division at the 2018 and 2019 EUBC European U22 Championships.
Serious about the sport
Talking about how the sport has changed over the years since she started playing a little under a decade ago, “Earlier there was hardly any scope for girls to pursue boxing. There was no name for girls’ boxing and no facilities where girls could start to train, in fact, people used to rebuke us in the beginning. Boxing federation also got banned for four years some time ago and that was a blow to us. But things are getting better now and even media covers our bouts and it’s shown on television and that helps the game a lot.”
“I was very excited because I was getting on a plane for the first time and I was going to play for India. It was a great experience to play with boxers of other countries and learn various ring techniques from them” Simranjit Kaur on first international tournament
“Earlier when we used to go to play nationals, we had bare minimum facilities and there were hardly any options when it came to food, but in the last two years at least the accommodation and food has really been upgraded.” Kaur was a part of the 10-members Indian squad at the 2018 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, held at New Delhi. The squad was led by Mary Kom and Kaur went on to win the bronze medal at the Light welterweight category for India.
She adds that in the last few years, women boxers have really outshone themselves and have brought several laurels for the country but she wants more encouragement for the sport across the country. “The more the promotion, the more equality there will be. So, the most important thing for women’s sport to grow is people’s support for it,” believes Kaur, whose major focus is on Olympic qualifiers which will begin in January 2020.
While Kaur won a bronze at the President’s Cup in Labuan Bajo, Indonesia in 2018, she changed it to gold in 2019.