POOJA RANI (75 kg)
Date of Birth: 17.02.91.
Place of birth: Bhiwani, Haryana
Defiant and determined, Pooja Rani has proved what is possible if one has set her heart on something. The Bhiwani girl’s introduction to boxing happened only in college when she was 18 on the insistence of her college lecturer. Soon after, at the Captain Hawa Singh Boxing Academy, she started honing her skills.
But with her father, who was in Haryana Police, vehemently against boxing, Pooja’s tryst with the sport did not have a rosy start. Even a tearful Pooja’s pleas fell on her father’s deaf ears who wanted to see his daughter in some other ‘respectable’ sport like basketball.
Even when she got a few cuts and bruises during her training, she stayed away from home for fear of her father stopping her boxing career then and there.
In her own words – “Once or twice when I got injured in training, I wouldn’t even go back home as I feared that my father would completely derail my boxing career if he saw my injuries. So I used to stay at my coach’s home.”
Despite the initial lack of support from her father, Pooja continued to don the boxing gloves and put in the hard yards at training. It took only six months for the highly talented girl to win a gold at the Youth State Championships which was followed by a silver at the Youth Nationals.
Even though that still could not soften her father’s stand against boxing, Pooja’s steady rise in just one year made her coach intervene when one day things spiralled out of control between the father and the daughter. That ultimately paved the way for her entire family’s full-fledged support and Pooja eventually blossomed into a six-time national champion, an Asian Championships as well as an Asian Games medallist, apart from a South Asian Games gold medallist.
It was at the 2010 State Championships that the world took notice of the highly skilled newcomer for the first time when she got the better of the experienced Preeti Beniwal.
In between, however, Pooja was away from the ring for nearly a year, firstly because she wanted to recharge the batteries which unfortunately got extended because she burnt her hand during Diwali. The accident needed six months to recover and she came back to become the national champion last year.
From 60kg to 75kg to 81kg, Pooja has had to change her weight category twice but each time she has come back with more laurels. Five of her six national golds have been in 75kg while this year she began the season with the 81kg gold.
A World Championships gold medal and the Arjuna Award are what she is targeting now to add to an already illustrious resume as she prepares for the upcoming Asian Championships.
- 2021: Silver at Boxam International Tournament, Spain
- 2020: Bronze at Cologne World Cup
- 2020: Bronze at Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifier, Jordan
- 2019: Gold at Asian Championships, Thailand
- 2019: Women’s National Boxing Championships: Gold
- 2018: Women’s National Boxing Championships: Gold
- 2017: Women’s National Boxing Championships: Gold
- 2016: South Asian Games: Gold
- 2015: Women’s National Boxing Championships: Gold
- 2015: Asian Boxing Championships: Bronze
- 2014: Asian Games: Bronze
- 2013: Women’s National Boxing Championships: Gold
- 2012: Asian Boxing Championships: Silver
- 2012: Women’s National Boxing Championships: Gold
- 2011: National Games: Gold
- 2009: Women’s Youth Nationals: Silver
- 2009: Youth State Championships: Gold