There was a time when boxing was always considered a male preserve. It was a strong belief that women’s bodies were too frail to box. The decision to grant it recognition for the Olympics inspired many enthusiastic women who were previously discouraged from considering combat sports as a career. Earlier, girls thought that women could not box, but now there are role models for them. Some of boxing’s biggest female stars have stepped into the ring and answered the bell even during pandemic times.
One of those who have defied the age-old myths and dispelled the belief that women can’t be boxers is Nagpur’s dream girl, Alfiya Pathan. It is a rare coincidence that a girl from a conservative community overcomes all compelling odds to emerge on the boxing landscape as a shining comet.
Alfiya recently won gold at the World Youth Boxing Championship organized by the International Boxing Association (known as AIBA, after its French acronym). She clinched gold as she stunned a strong contender and European Youth Champion Moldova’s Daria Kozorez 5-0 in the final. For those glued to the screens during the match, Alifya looked in complete control throughout and made the opponent work hard with her swift movement and precise punches.
Shimmering in a gladiator-style maroon boxing outfit, Alfiya paused for dramatic effect. Then she strode towards the ring as horns blared. After the bell, Alfiya ploughed through her opponent who bounced and scrambled as Alfiya stalked her round the perimeter with heavy, ominous solidity. She hammered her with long, straight blows that came in combinations, hard rights, double jabs hooks, uppercuts. Alfiya stayed close, trapping her opponent against the ropes to smother her punches. “I put on a good show. I used some good techniques. I showed my skill, and my power,” recalls Alfiya as she got back and re-united with her family in Nagpur after almost six months on the circuit.
Moin Qazi holds PhDs in Development Economics and English. He worked for three decades at State Bank of India in various developmental roles. He served as Chancellor’s nominee in Nagpur University and as a Member of the National Committee on Financial Inclusion at NITI Aayog. He is the recipient of the UNESCO World Politics Essay Gold Medal, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Gold Medal from Dalit Sahitya Academy and Rotary International’s Vocational Excellence Award.