Bringing up boxing talent: a small boxing club in Dighwara, Bihar needs help
Vijender Singh's 2008 Summer Olympics bronze medal gave international recognition to Indian boxing and inspired hundreds of young people in the country. One of them was Roshan Singh from Dighwara, 50 kms from Patna in Bihar.
Roshan Singh, who was working as the Physical Education instructor at a school, persuaded a local college to start the RJS boxing club for young people. He motivated many of his school students, including girls, to join. When he found that some students were hesitant or too poor, he gave them boxing gloves from his own money, just so they could get in and begin.
The girls soon proved to be as good as the boys in the ring, but they had a tougher battle outside. The villagers harried their parents for sending their daughters to a boxing club. Sports is just not appropriate for girls, they would say.
Parents who dreamt of academic success, were worried when the saw their children spend their evenings boxing, ‘beating each other up’. But the 20-odd students kept their heads down and focussed on the game.
Next year, at the Junior Women National Boxing Championship and the Junior (Sub-Junior) Men National Boxing Championship, the boxing club raked in a total of 5 medals, including that for the 'Most Promising Boxer'. In an arena previously dominated by Haryana, Delhi and Manipur, newcomers were edging their way in. For the members of the Dighwara boxing club, it was a heady experience full of promise.
The villagers now lauded them as local heroes and team loved the limelight. More youngsters started joining the club, with children as young as five wanting to become 'champions'. The local politician gave visited and pledged his support for the club. But the financial help did not come through.
Dhiraj Kant, another coach at the boxing club explains, “There is a lot of talent here. If we see someone who cannot afford the fees, or the equipment, we arrange for them to get it. We focus on providing the best facilities, and the students on their performance. It works, because there is no dearth of talent. With some support we could become the base of boxing in Bihar, like Bhiwani in Haryana.”
The club, even now, is run on contributions from the local college and the personal salaries of the coaches and friends.
At present, a concrete platform serves as a ring. Boxing equipment remains expensive. The students need to practice on a proper ring made of padding covered by canvass, to get their footing right and fight on par with seasoned competitors.
The ring alone will cost Rs. 2.5 lakh. Priyanka, who won the national medal for Most Promising Boxer says, “It is one thing that I walk into the ring, having prepared as best as the other person and letting talent decide the outcome. But in truth, the footing and technique of someone who has practiced with the proper equipment will be better. I wish the field were more level, but we have to do the best we can.” In an effort to raise the money for better facilities, the club has created a crowdfunding campaign on Milaap.org.
In this meager setup, the first round goes to talent. Aman Kumar, 19, winner of the silver medal at the 25th Junior (Sub-Junior) National Boxing Championship, has decided to join the Manoj Kumar Boxing Academy in Gurgaon to train.
Priyanka and Varsha Rani, also national-level medal winners want to train as coaches and give many more young women the focussed support they wished they could have had when they were training. Being part of the club has helped them take charge of their own futures.
The fire can last as long as the inspiration and talent is nurtured. With support from the community, talented young members of the RJS Boxing Club can aim higher and train better. Find their campaign and support it here.