Indian boxers Pooja Rani and Nikhat Zareen lived up to their billing by winning gold medals at the women’s national boxing championships 2021 in Hisar, Haryana on Wednesday.
Two-time Asian champion and Tokyo Olympian Pooja Rani won the top honours in the light heavyweight division (81kg) whereas Nikhat Zareen claimed top podium in the flyweight category (52kg). The national meet was held at the St Joseph’s International School in Hisar.
Pooja Rani of Haryana made quick work of Nupur from the Railway Sports Promotion Board (RSPB), dominating all three rounds in the final to register a unanimous victory.
Pooja Rani and Simranjit Kaur were the only two Tokyo Olympians competing at the event. Tokyo 2020 bronze medallist Lovlina Borgohain and Indian boxing legend Mary Kom had pulled out of the event.
In what was their first event since this year’s Summer Games, Simranjit Kaur bowed out in the semi-finals of the 60kg event while Pooja Rani went all the way.
Meanwhile, Telangana’s Nikhat Zareen, also a former Asian medallist, survived a challenge from Haryana’s Minakshi in the summit clash, winning the bout by a 4-1 split verdict. Nikhat was the runner-up at the previous national meet.
Nikhar Zareen was also adjudged best boxer of the tournament.
However, Jaismine, who stunned Simranjit Kaur in the semi-finals, could not continue her winning run and lost to Meena Rani of RSPB in a close final. Former national champion Meena Rani won the bout 3-2.
RSPB’s Sonia Lather, the 2016 world silver medallist, added another gold to her team’s tally in the 57kg while youth world champion Arundhati Choudhary of Rajasthan reigned supreme in the 70kg.
Nitu (48kg), Anamika (50kg), Shiksha (54kg), Parveen (63kg), Anjali Tushir (66kg), Saweety Boora (75kg) and Nandini (+81kg) were the other gold medallists on the final day.
At the end of the tournament, RSPB finished on top, winning five of the 12 gold medals on offer, followed closely by Haryana with four.
The top two boxers from each weight class will now train at the upcoming national coaching camp.
The remaining two names for the camp in each category will be picked based on performances in the selection trials, which will take place right after the nationals.