Khelo India Youth Games 2019, Boxing: Maharashtra boxers Mitika and Devika are now dancing to a different beat
Pune, January 17: Maharashtra’s Devika Ghorpade and Mitika Gunele quit dancing to become pugilists and they have flowered. There are many who think that dancing and boxing are somehow related in terms of footwork. Pune pugilist Ghorpade and Mumbai’s Mitika are a perfect example of this.
At the Khelo India Youth Games, Devika Ghorpade is competing in the Under-17 46kg category, while Mitika Gunele is competing in Under-17 66kg.
Both players used to dance on a different beat a few years ago. While Devika won state-level competitions in western classical dance, Mitika had cleared Grade 2 exam in Bharatnatyam.
Both dancers decided to switch to a totally different field and yet managed to win laurels at the national and international levels.
For them, the new beats are the approaching footsteps of the opponent and raining solid punches on an opponent’s face and body. And the music for them is the loud cheers and roar from the crowd.
Talking about the transformation, Mitika said, “I was into dancing because my parents were into a similar field. My father Sanjay is a musician while my mother works for All India Radio as editor. I have even accompanied my father as a Congo drummer to few shows. But then everything changed when I started boxing.”
When asked what made her choose boxing over dance, she said, “Basically I feel girls should be into such sports for self-defence. And the second reason was that my elder sister Muskan was into sports. She is an international karate player. So, my parents wanted me to achieve something that will take us to the international level.”
Interestingly, Mitika’s selection to the boxing was nothing but a fortunate accident. She along with her sister had gone for SAI selection trials for karate. While waiting for their turn, Mitika noticed boxing bouts at the adjacent arena and decided to give a shot. Her raw power and hidden talent were quickly noticed by coach Jaswant Singh and he convinced her to take up the sport. Mitika says that it was the wisest decision she made at the age of 12.
So far Mitika has competed at four internationals and has won gold in Ukraine International, 7th Nations Cup in Serbia and was part of the Indian team to the tour to Kazakhstan and Poland.
Pune’s 13-year-old Devika has a similar story to tell. She started dancing, inspired by her elder sister Divya. At the age of 10, Devika won few medals at the state-level dancing competition too. However, the Rio Olympics 2016 was a turning point for her life.
“I closely watched several matches and I was thrilled with women’s boxing. That’s when I decided to make a career in sports. Initially, I was confused between wrestling and boxing, but in the end, I chose the latter,” she said.
Devika was quite fortunate as she got former Olympian Manoj Pingale as a coach. Within two years of training, she bagged a gold medal in National sub-junior and was also adjudged as the best pugilist award. She is yet to make a mark at the international level.
When asked what she thinks of boxing-related injuries, she said, “I am not worried about that. Brave Maratha warrior Santaji Ghorpade, who is known for his guerrilla warfare technique is my inspiration and I want to be fearless like him."