Lovlina Borgohain Interview: The Assam girl Lovlina Borgohain has assured India its second medal at the Tokyo Olympics. She has now reached the quarterfinal bout of Women’s Welterweight (64-69kg) category.
Borgohain is the first woman and the second person to qualify for the Olympics from the Northeastern State of Assam. People from the seven sister states, especially the women, have often being the receiving end of racist behaviour. Recently after the win of Chanu Saikhom Mirabai there has been a debate about how Northeasterns become ‘Indian’ only when they win medals. SheThePeople had caught up with her when she was training hard for the Olympics before the lockdown.
World Championship bronze-medallist Lovlina Borgohain’s won a gold medal at the Women’s National Boxing Championship in 2019. Before that, the 21-year-old boxer from Assam started with a gold at the India Open, but lost a close contest at the Commonwealth Games. After that she had triumphed at the World Championships in her maiden appearance, winning a bronze medal in the 69 kg event.
While she is still struggling with a leg injury but is in full spirit to participate in the qualifying events coming this year. Lovlina is currently training for the upcoming World Championships. What started off as a mere interest in martial art later switched to full-stretched boxing career, and Lovlina’s international journey came into being in 2016. The champion boxer now eyes big, training hard for the next big one — Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
How would you describe your childhood and what inspired you to go for boxing?
I come from a lower middle class family, that belongs to Assam’s Golaghat. From an early age my twin sisters and I were taught to be strong in order to pursue our dreams or to be successful in life. My mother is a very strong woman and despite having a poor economic condition she never let us suffer in any situation. My sisters are well-trained in martial arts and seeing them I also got interested in doing so.
To fulfill my father’s dream is my main motivation, and boxing was always in my blood.
During one practicing session while I was concentrating on martial arts in Guwahati-based SAI centers, the selection committee had sent renowned Coach Padum Boro to conduct a trial and selection camp for city-based boxers. He spotted me for my well-built structure. Thanks to kickboxing training, and the abilities I had already garnered worked like a charm and I was selected.
Being born in a family where my father is a big fan of sports and my sisters are making a mark in martial arts, his dreams to see us participating in Olympics came true with my selection process. Sports Authority took me in, and my father’s belief in me paved the way to dream big.
After realising that the form of martial art we have been practicing is not a recognized Olympic sport, I decided to go for boxing. The national medals I win will be forgotten in few months, all this means nothing if I cannot win an Olympic gold.
I will not rest until I win an Olympic gold. No matter what the universe has planned for me, the fact that I still am strong after the injury gives me hope to do much better and greater.
Being an elite professional female boxer in India, how often girls from the state consider taking up sports as full time profession? Is it risky considering societal pressure?
These days parents are smart and they do care about other activities. Today we have examples of so many young girls from the state taking up sports particularly combat sports as their profession. Modern facilities are here to help too. Unlike other sports people in the country, I do feel good about how things are going.
A few years back, parents were against their girls taking up sports over studies, let alone boxing. The societal pressure would overpower them. They would fear of something bad happening to their daughters, or worse getting injured during practice sessions. Social anxiety like what would people think or who will marry you came first, so girls from the state were not allowed to follow their dreams. This particular mentality is changed now and I feel proud to be a daughter. My sisters also competed at the national level in kickboxing and in my family my father is a huge supporter of pursuing sports.
With time, my sisters got jobs, and here I am, following my passion. The improvement in our lifestyle simply makes us happy, we know we can now afford to dream and have a comfortable life.
How did your life change with boxing?
Boxing is everything for me. Aside from the tactical or technical aspect of it, boxing taught me the lesson to be a better person. One thing I’ll always cherish is that boxing gave me the power to embrace my failure.
It taught me that I am not lost when opponent defeats me, I am only lost when I refuse to get up and fight back.
What inspires you every day?
The dream of winning a Olympic gold inspires me everyday. I am prepping for several competitions, to be held this year, starting with World Championships, then Olympic qualifiers and other tournaments. Even though the injury brings me down some times, I am excited to get back to full fitness for the qualifying events lined up this year.
Share your strategies and insights for it. What do you think before a game?
Team is one of the strongest support one could have as a boxer, and the legacies Indian boxers left for us encourage us to do more, achieve tons. I follow the footsteps of legends like Mary Kom and Sarita Devi who single-handedly waived India’s flag at world stage for many years. And now as their guidance and utmost support from our National Boxing Federation lead us, and many youngsters in the country, I like to think about their achievements before putting the gloves on.
What are your biggest challenges you face?
Feature Image credit: Lovlina Borgohain