For Manju Rani, participating in the AIBA World Championships is a dream come true. The pugilist is part of the 10-member squad that makes up the Indian women’s contingent that will travel to Russia for the Championships which will be held from October 3 to 13.
“It is nothing less than a dream come true for me to be taking part in the World Championships,” Manju told IANS. “I never even thought that I would make it to this stage one day. I’m very excited to go over there and prove myself. To win a medal, I will need to train a lot harder and I am working accordingly.”
Manju beat President Cup winner Monika in the three-day trials for the World Championships squad that was held at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium. “I had trained well for the trials which is why I believed that I could beat her. I was not thinking about the result at all and had total belief in myself.”
Manju, who hails from Rohtak, Haryana, was only 12 when her father died. It was her mother who looked after her and she credits her for helping the boxer to get to where she is now as a boxer. She said that she was inspired by the stories of Beijing Olympic bronze medallist Vijender Singh and six-time world champion Mary Kom to take up boxing.
“Kabaddi is a big sport in Haryana and I also used to play that a lot earlier. Seeing what Vijender sir and Mary Kom did on television however saw me taking boxing seriously. I felt that if they can get to where they are, I can too,” said Manju.
She decided to shift base to Punjab however and Manju says that it is the politics and discrimination she faced in Haryana that made her do it. “Despite good performances, I was not getting chances in Haryana and so I had to shift to Punjab. I don’t think I would have got this far if I was still based in Haryana,” she said.
Manju said that her next target is the Olympics. “I have fulfilled my dream of reaching the World Championships and so now I want to make my country proud in the Olympics. I have started training for that too,” she said.