Moments after winning a maiden gold at the Commonwealth Games, young Indian boxer Nitu Ghanghas dedicated the trophy to her dotting father Jai Bhagwan, who didn’t leave any stone unturned to fuel his daughter’s dream. An employee at the Haryana secretariat, Bhagwan has been on unpaid leave for the last three years to train Nitu, a two-time World Youth champion. On Sunday, all the sacrifices seemed worth it as Nitu stood on the podium when the gold medal around her neck.

“The greatest feeling was to see the Tricolour going up, one of my long-standing wishes was fulfilled today. I’m thankful for everyone’s blessings… this medal is for our fellow countrymen and father (Jai Bhagwan),” Nitu told PTI.

“Koi kasar nahi chhoda unhone mere liye. He has not left any stone unturned and gone through many hardships but always ensured that I get the best. I would not be here without him.” While the 21-year-old is an indomitable force inside the ring, outside of it she comes across as very shy. You can hardly hear her voice when she speaks.

With the chants of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ at the makeshift stands inside the National Exhibition Centre here making the atmosphere louder, Nitu had to be escorted out of the mixed zone to a corner meant for television interviews.

But when she steps into the ring, she becomes a different person. Her coach refers to her as ‘Gabbar Sherni’ of the ring.

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“She’s always been like that. Even at the camp or outside, you would hardly get to hear the voice, she hardly talks but inside the ring, she’s like a ‘Gabbar Sherni’,” said her India coach Bhaskar Chandra Bhatt.

Picked for her maiden CWG in place of her ‘idol’ and six-time world champion Mary Kom, who got injured, Nitu was unstoppable.

“Mary Kom ma’am ki jagah ek alagh hi hai (She has a different place altogether). She has given an identity to Indian boxing on the global stage. I’m nowhere in front of her,” the unassuming Nitu told PTI.

After her selection, Nitu was seen as the ‘next Mary Kom’ but the boxer prefers not to give any attention to the “talks”.

“When I’m inside the ring, I’m clueless about the outside world and what’s going on around me, I just give it all.” Just three months back, Nitu missed out on a World Championship medal, crashing out in the quarterfinal after a bout of fever.

“I had a fever the whole night and could not sleep. But thankfully this time there was no such thing,” she remembers about her loss to Kazakhstan’s Alua Balkibekova 2-3 in the quarters.

A day after her win via RSC (referee-stops-contest) in the semis, Nitu outpunched the local favourite Demie-Jade Resztan, a 2019 World Championship bronze and European silver medalist.

“I would say this is just the beginning for her. There are more good things in store for her,” Bhatt said of Nitu.

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