Published: 20th December 2020
This 21-year-old boxer from Haryana wants to represent India in the 2024 Olympics. Here's her story
Manju has a few accolades to her name and later wishes to represent India in the Olympics 2024. We spoke to her to know more about her boxing journey
For all of us, 21-year-old Manju Rani's story is an example of how sheer grit, determination and believing in yourself can take you to great heights. Hailing from a village in Haryana, Manju ventured into sports in 2013. She always had a knack for boxing after watching Mary Kom and Vijender Singh's achieve success. However, because of her economic background and a lack of adequate facilities in her village, Manju's training had taken a back seat for quite a few years.
All of that never deterred Manju's spirit. Now 21, Manju had already won a silver medal at the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship, and another silver medal at the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament 2019 in Bulgaria. In all of this, her coach Saheb Singh Narwal has been the pillar of support, she tells us. "I lost my father to cancer in 2010 and after that, it was tough for my mother to make a living for a family of eight only with my father's pension. I had then thought that I would give up my aspirations of boxing. However, my mother encouraged me to go ahead. My local coach has supported us throughout. He used to teach village kids all kinds of sports activities, at first we had begun with kabaddi. But I had soon realised that I wanted to an individual sport and also learn self-defence in the process. That's how I began my boxing journey," adds Manju.
However, things were not as simple. "We didn't have facilities, nor did we have a proper academy nearby, we used to practice in the fields. There was no proper equipment, we were not well-to-do so whatever type of boxing gloves, pads we could get hold of I had to practice with those," she says. Things changed for the better when Narwal helped Manju get admission to Lovely Professional University in Punjab. Manju received a full scholarship to study at LPU under the sports quota. "I used to play from Haryana earlier but did not get great chances, so I began playing from Punjab. Everyone supports me here, helps me train properly. I was trained by coach Amanpreet Kaur who works with students at LPU," she adds. Since then, there has been no looking back for the young boxing champion.
The pandemic and the subsequent lockdown came as a sudden deterrent for the young athlete. She tells us that she has been finding it difficult to keep up with her regular training. "At the training camp, we had access to all the equipment. We used to train for a longer time there. Currently, I manage with whatever facilities I have at home. We get a daily schedule for diet and practice from camp, I have been managing somehow to follow that at home since the lockdown. I hope things get better soon and we can get back to practising properly," she adds.
Manju likes to focus on short-term goals and currently, she is preparing for the Commonwealth Games 2022. She also has aspirations and hopes to represent India in the 2024 Olympics, which is scheduled to be held in France.