Three Indian boxers, including Nikhat Zareen, advanced to the semi-finals of their respective events after a thrilling Commonwealth Games win in Birmingham on Wednesday. With their wins, Zareen (50kg), Neetu Gangus (48kg) and Mohammad Hussamuddin (57kg) took India to three boxing medals. Defending world champion Zareen won the light flyweight quarterfinals with a 5-0 unanimous decision win over Helen Jones of Wales. Husamuddin defeated Namibia’s Trygan Morning Ndevelo in a 4–1 split decision to reach the men’s 57kg semi-finals to claim his second consecutive CWG medal.
The 28-year-old from Nizamabad had won a bronze medal at the Gold Coast four years ago. Husamuddin had to work hard for the win as it was a tough fight that could have gone either way.
Earlier in the day, Neetu started proceedings by showing her enthusiasm to demolish Northern Ireland’s Nicole Clyde in the women’s 48kg category and get India its maiden boxing medal at the ongoing Games.
The 21-year-old from Dhanana in Bhiwani district dominated the first two rounds against Clyde before the bout was abandoned and the result was only one.
Making her Commonwealth Games debut, Neetu had big shoes to fill in the weight category of legendary MC Mary Kom, who injured herself during the selection trials held ahead of the mega event.
The Indian contingent had trained in Ireland before coming to Birmingham and this helped Neetu in her fight against Clyde.
“It was my first bout against him but we trained together in Ireland two weeks ago and did the touching and all.
“I knew what to do. This is only the beginning, I have a long way to go,” Neetu said after the quarterfinal win.
“I just listen to my coaches and try to follow that in the ring,” she said when asked about her long-term goals.
The Strandja Memorial gold medalist has no role model and isn’t into watching videos of other boxers either.
She is competing in the weight category of the great Mary Kom, but Neetu insists that she was never under any kind of pressure.
Neetu, who started boxing in 2012, suffered a serious shoulder injury in 2019, which kept her out of action for a long time.
She comes from a place where girls are not encouraged to play. However, one day his father enrolled him in a nearby academy and the rest followed him.
To make Neetu’s dream come true, her father had to leave his job in Chandigarh. She will count on nothing less than gold but is hopeful that a medal at the Commonwealth Games will lead to a financially secure future.
“We live in a joint family. My father is with me all the time so he cannot work. His elder brother takes care of all the expenses as we live in a joint family. Hopefully, this medal is huge. Will bring change,” added Neetu.
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