• November 29, 2021

Olympics Boxing: Pooja Rani in 75kg quarter-finals

India’s Pooja Rani out-punched Algeria’s Ichrak Chaib in her opening bout to enter the quarter-finals of the 75kg boxing competition in her maiden Olympic Games in Tokyo on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Haryana pugilist won 5-0, thoroughly dominating an opponent 10 years her junior.

Next up for Rani is Olympic bronze-medallist, two-time Asian champion, and former world gold-medallist Li Qian of China. The two will square off on July 31.

The two-time Asian champion was in command with her right straights and also benefitted immensely from Chaib’s lack of balance in the ring.

All three rounds were a story of Rani’s domination as Chaib, also appearing in her maiden Olympics, just could not figure a way to connect cleanly.

Rani played smart by keeping her distance. All she had to do throughout the bout was counter-attack as Chaib failed spectacularly in trying to hit powerfully, her wild swings mostly missing the target area.

Rani’s Olympic journey has been the one of many struggles. She battled a career-threatening shoulder injury, a burnt hand and lack of financial support before making it this far.

Her police officer father did not want her to pursue the sport as he felt boxing was a sport meant for aggressive people.

Maar lag jaegi (you will get hurt). That’s what my father said. He insisted that the sport was not meant for me because in his mind, boxing was pursued by aggressive people,” she had recalled in an interview detailing her journey.

On Thursday, six-time World champion M C Mary Kom (51kg) will fight her pre-quarter-final bout against Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia, a boxer she has defeated both times the two have faced off.

Mary Kom is chasing her second Olympic medal, having won a bronze in the 2012 London edition.

In the men’s competition, debutant Satish Kumar, the first super heavyweight (+91kg) to make the Olympics cut from India, will open his campaign in the pre-quarter-final stage against Jamaica’s Ricardo Brown.

Satish is a former Asian Games bronze-medallist and Commonwealth Games silver-medallist.

Earlier in the Tokyo Olympics boxing competition, Manish Kaushik (63kg), Vikas Krishan (69kg) and Ashish Chaudhary (75kg) bowed out after opening-round defeats.

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