The late Hawa Singh reigned supreme across Asia in the 1960s and early 70s, and decades later, Nupur is carrying forward his legacy in the amateur boxing circuit
Representational Image (Pic Courtesy: iStock)
Born into a family of renowned pugilists, Nupur Sheoran was not bitten by the boxing bug in her early years, as she preferred playing with puppies over sparring in the ring.
But a defeat in a sub junior state meet changed the course of her life as she finally looked to make a career out of the sport which her legendary grandfather, captain Hawa Singh, once dominated.
The late Hawa Singh reigned supreme across Asia in the 1960s and early 70s, and decades later, Nupur is carrying forward his legacy in the amateur boxing circuit.
Each time Nupur enters the boxing ring she carries with her the burden of expectation that comes with being a third generation boxer. Her father Sanjay Kumar is also multiple-time national champion.
"Pressure toh saath mei hi chalta hai (Pressure is always there)," says the affable Nupur, who is competing in the +81kg category at the ongoing Women's World Championships here.
Sports runs in Nupur's blood as her mother Mukesh Rani is an Asian Championships medallist basketball player. So, one would think Nupur would have been inclined towards sports since her childhood days.
After all, she grew up listening to tales of her two-time Asian Games gold medallist grandfather, who won 11 successive national heavyweight titles between 1961 and 1972.
He is the only Indian boxer to have won back-to-back Asian Games titles in 1966 and 1970.
But the self-confessed "shy girl" would only visit the Captain Hawa Singh Boxing Academy, started by her father, to play with the puppies there.
"My father has an academy and he used to train children who were financially week. I have been seeing that since my childhood, there used to be around 30-35 kids.
"I was good in studies and the only reason I would go to the academy was to play with the puppies over there," the eloquent pugilist told PTI.
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Nupur was around two when her grandfather died, and she only has faint memories of him, but what she remembers clearly is his Bhim Award.
"I used to keep asking my mom about the Arjuna Award, what it is. And we used to keep playing with the Gadda of the Bhim Award recklessly."
Nupur half-heartedly competed in her first boxing tournament -- the Haryana sub junior state tournament when she was in school.
"I was in 10th when I played my first tournament. My father called my mother and asked 'does Nupur want to play'?. I went in my school uniform for my weighing in.
"I had my first fight with the sub-junior national champion and I beat her via RSC (referee stops contest) in the first round. So I thought 'wow boxing is very easy'."
It was only after she tasted her first defeat in the ring a few years later that she realised that boxing is what she wanted to do.
"When I played my first serious tournament in university and lost for the first time, I knew I wanted to really pursue boxing.
"I went to my father and told him 'I want to do this, will you please teach me'?. The next two years was hell. My dad used to be so angry because I was very lazy."
She won the gold at the 2015 Youth Nationals and the 2018 All India-University Boxing Tournament. In 2019, she competed in her maiden international event.
With India hosting the World Championships, nothing could stop the strong-willed Nupur from being a part of it -- not even a ligament injury.
"Last October, I tore the ligament in my ankle during training. I was doing footwoork and twisted my ankle.
"I was on bed rest for two months and started training 20 days before the Nationals.
"But because of the World Championship I knew I wanted to compete (in the nationals)."
The Bhiwani boxer, who wasn't 100 per cent fit, went on to win the gold.
Her next target is a medal at the World Championship, in which she started her campaign on a dominating note, beating Guyana's Abiola Jackman 5-0
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