Who is Pooja Rani Bohra: Boxer Pooja Rani out-punched Algeria’s Ichrak Chaib, ten years her junior, to move one step closer towards her maiden Olympic medal on Day 5 of the Tokyo Games 2020 on Wednesday. The 30-year-old used all her experience to control the three-round bout against Chaib and made her way into the quarterfinals of the women’s middleweight (75kg category) quarterfinals.
A lot calm and composed, Rani, the reigning Asian champion and the first Indian athlete to qualify for the Olympics, won by a unanimous 5-0 decision against her 20-year-old opponent, assuring herself and India of a medal.
Who is Pooja Rani Bohra?
Rani, who hails from Bhiwani district, has won the Asian Boxing Championship gold in May and a victory over world champion Atheyna Bylon in March this year at the Boxam International Tournament where she won silver, making this one of her best years in the sport so far. She qualified for the 2020 Olympics with a 50 win over Pornnipa Chutee in the quarterfinal of the women’s 75 kg at the Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifiers last year.
𝗣𝗢𝗪𝗘𝗥𝗙𝗨𝗟 𝗣𝗢𝗢𝗝𝗔 🥊
— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) July 28, 2021
In 2019, she became the first woman boxer to advance into the finals of the Asian Boxing Championship in Bangkok. Rani grabbed the spotlight after bagging the 81kg title in the 2019 edition of the continental event and subsequently claiming the 75kg crown in the Asian championships in Dubai.
The Haryana boxer, who shuffled between 75kg and 81kg weight classes before settling for the middleweight to give herself a chance in the Olympics, comes from a family which doesn’t support women playing any kind of sport. This is one of many struggles she had gone through before making the cut. Being a boxing enthusiast, Rani was always on the lookout for opportunities to start her training. Even though she got a chance to join an academy in her hometown, she was scared to tell her police officer father of her passion as he did not want her to pursue the sport. He felt boxing was more of a sport for aggressive people. She used to hide her bruises and injuries from practice so that her father wouldn’t notice. Eventually, her big secret was out but her boxing coach spoke to her parents and convinced them that she would be safe, according to a report by Sportskeeda.
The beautiful thing about learning is that nobody can take it away from you. #23Days #Countdown #Tokyo2020 #Cheer4India @BFI_official @Media_SAI @lakshyasportsin @baselineventure @WeAreTeamIndia @BoxerAC @IamNidhieSharma @taapsee pic.twitter.com/qGugjumOdJ
— Pooja Rani Bohra 🇮🇳 (@BoxerPooja) June 29, 2021
Rani even battled a career-threatening shoulder injury, a burnt hand and lack of financial support before making it this far. The boxer fought against all the odds and decided to opt for physiotherapy which helped her recover quicker. Read more about her here.
Starting off her career in 2009, Rani won silver at the Asian Boxing Championship in 2012 and bagged bronze in the same competition in 2015. She has since clinched two gold medals in the 2019 and 2021 editions of the Asian Boxing Championship after failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics. She became one of the first athletes from the Indian contingent to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics and set foot on the podium with a strong-headed attitude.
The Indian pugilist continued from where she left off and now, she has become only the second Indian boxer to enter quarterfinals in Tokyo Olympics. This is Rani’s maiden Olympic Games and her next bout will be held on Saturday. Before her, Lovlina Borgohain secured a place in the quarterfinals of the women’s welterweight event on Tuesday. MC Mary Kom also won her opening round and now will be in action on Thursday for a place in the quarterfinals.
Feature Image Credit: The Bridge