World Championship bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur (60kg) has qualified for the Tokyo Olympics. Kaur who hails from Chakar village in Ludhiana district is the first female boxer from Punjab to qualify. She defeated second seed Mongolian boxer by unanimous verdict with 5-0 to storm into the semi-finals of the ongoing Asian/Oceanian Boxing Olympic qualifiers in Amman, Jordan. On Tuesday, she made it to the finals and has assured herself of a silver medal. She defeated third seed Chinese Taipei’s Shih-Yi Wu 4-0 in the 60 kg weight category semi-final.

“I had only thought, I had to qualify for Tokyo no matter what. The pressure had been building, after many months of training, and when I finally achieved it the feeling was incredible. I was fighting a second seed so I started attacking from the very beginning. The credit for my achievement goes to my family, coaches and every single person who supported me so far,” said Kaur after qualifying for Tokyo Olympic in a video message to Boxing Federation of India.

Who is pugilist Simranjit Kaur?

Simranjit is the family’s sole breadwinner and has been struggling to hold her family together after her father passed away in 2018. Kaur, who is a bronze medallist at the 2018 World Championship and a silver medallist at the 2019 Asian Championship, is responsible for a family of five. She is currently unemployed and has to take care of her family’s financial crunch. The 24-year-old has two younger brothers, who are still studying, an elder sister who is employed with the BSF and is married, and their mother. She has reportedly written to the state government seeking for a job to support her family on multiple occasions.

In a tweet, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh assured Kaur saying “Don’t worry about anything, just focus on the upcoming Olympics. I have directed Secretary, Sports to immediately look into what needs to be done. Also I would like to thank all on Social Media & the media who highlighted the issue.”

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“I am the sole breadwinner of the family. My two younger brothers are still studying. My elder sister is employed with the BSF (Border Security Force), but she is married and lives with her husband. The responsibility of the family thus, is entirely mine. I want to get a job with the Punjab government but now I am open to a job anywhere else – within the state or outside it,” Kaur, said.

How The Game Has Changed

Kaur trained at Sher-E-Punjab Academy of Chakar. The boxer also talks about how the game has changed 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. The 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,” she said in an interview with SheThePeople.TV.

Her father worked at a local grocery store at a salary of Rs 4,000. Now Kaur’s earnings – the money she gets from participating in various international tournaments  –  are barely enough. She is a BA second-year student from Chandigarh University. Despite her achievements in various tournaments, Kaur has never been employed anywhere. “ Kabhi job kiya hi nahi, kisi ne diya hi nahi (Never been employed, nobody offered me a job),” she told TOI.

In her last outing, Kaur won the 60kg trial against veteran boxer Sarita Devi and bagged the right to represent India at the Olympic qualifiers.

Now, a resolute Kaur will take on Korea’s Oh Yeonji in the finals.

Nine Indian boxers are going to the Tokyo Games this year, making India the most successful team ever.

Read More Stories By Ria Das

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