Five things to know about India’s boxing sensation Lovlina Borgohain
The 23-year-old has been assured of at least a bronze medal at Tokyo 2020.
India’s Lovlina Borgohain punched her way to creating history, by reaching the semi-finals in the women’s welterweight category at the ongoing Tokyo Olympics. The win assures her of at least a bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
Let’s take a look at some of the most defining moments in Lovlina Borgohain’s career, on the way to becoming an Olympic medalist:
5. Started her career with Muay Thai
Born in the Golaghat district of Assam, Lovlina Borgohain’s path to becoming a fearsome boxer was a bit unconventional. Her elder twin sisters Licha and Lima had competed at the national level at kickboxing. Lovlina too started her career as a kick-boxer, with Muay Thai to be more specific.
Muay Thai, which is also known as “Thai boxing,” is a martial art and combat sport. It uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. Despite its origin in Thailand, Muay Thai is related to various martial art styles of the Indian cultural sphere.
Practicing the Thai martial art form has given Lovlina Borgohain certain advantages. Blessed with a tall frame, Borgohain has neat footwork and is very good at escaping punches. During occasional clinching in boxing, she can also be seen applying multiple punches on the opponent’s rib cage area. These are factors that ultimately play a pivotal role in impressing the judges in mega-events.
4. 2017 Asian Boxing Championships – Breakthrough tournament
Borgohain soon shifted her focus to boxing. During trials by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) in 2012, her talent was recognized by renowned coach Padum Boro. Within a few years, she started making her mark on the national stage.
However, it is the Asian Boxing Championships in the year 2017 after which she truly came to prominence. Aged just 20, Borgohain travelled to Vietnam to take part in the competition. She set the ring ablaze with brilliant performances at the Nguyen Du Indoor Stadium in Ho Chi Minh City.
Participating in the prestigious continental meet, the young boxer went on to secure a podium finish in the welterweight category. A relatively unknown Lovlina Borgohain had suddenly found some prominence. And, she would go on to achieve greater things.
3. 2018 World Boxing Championships – Exploits on home soil
After an impressive showing at the India Open and a bronze medal finish at the President’s Cup in Kazakhstan, Lovlina Borgohain secured a place in India’s 2018 Commonwealth Games contingent. However, she went onto suffer a quarterfinal defeat against eventual winner Sandy Ryan of England.
Despite the disappointment, Borgohain was aiming to prove herself on the global stage. This time there was no need for her to travel abroad. The world’s finest boxers were in India for the 2018 World Boxing Championships.
The Indian boxer was completely transformed for this tournament. Borgohain underlined her abilities straightaway. She started the campaign with an emphatic 5-0 victory against reigning South American Games champion Atheyna Bylon of Panama. In her next bout, the Indian boxer was once again merciless in the ring. She powered her way past the recent bronze medalist at the Commonwealth Games, Kaye Scott. The Australian boxer was at the receiving end of a unanimous 5-0 defeat.
Despite a defeat to Chinese Taipei’s Chen Nien-chin in the semi-finals, Lovlina Borgohain had done enough to secure a bronze medal finish in front of home fans in New Delhi.
2. First Assamese woman to qualify for the Olympics
Yet another bronze medal was in Lovlina Borgohain’s cabinet after the World Boxing Championships the following year. In March 2020, she defeated Uzbek boxer Maftunakon Melieva 5-0 in the Asia & Oceania Boxing Olympic Qualifications. That victory ensured her a place in the women’s welterweight category at the Tokyo Olympics.
The young Indian pugilist created history by becoming the first-ever Assamese woman to qualify for the Olympic Games. She knew that qualifying for the Olympics is a massive achievement in itself, but she wanted to do something special in her maiden appearance.
Lovlina Borgohain had the perfect opportunity to measure herself ahead of the Tokyo Olympics. Just two months prior to the Games, she wanted to perform well at the Asian Boxing Championships in Dubai. Once again the Indian boxer underlined her abilities, by achieving a podium finish in the welterweight division. Lovlina Borgohain was now ready and raring to go on the biggest stage of them all. She also became the second-ever Assamese boxer after Shiva Thapa to part in the Olympic Games.
1. Only the third Indian boxer to win an Olympic medal
Experienced German boxer Nadine Apetz had to bite the dust, after a 3-2 loss to Borgohain in her opening bout. She would go on to face a familiar opponent in Chen Nien-chin in the quarterfinals. The Chinese Taipei boxer had got the better of her in the 2018 World Championships semi-finals. However, over the years, Borgohain had transformed herself and she showed exactly that at the Kokugikan Arena.
The 23-year-old showed great poise in a tense contest and set the tone right from the off. The boxer from Assam won the first round 3-2 and followed it up with a unanimous 5-0 win in the second round. The final round was all about smartly defending Nien-chin’s punches with neat footwork. Overall, she went on win 4-1 in the contest, to assure herself and the country of an Olympic medal.
Borgohain becomes only the third-ever Indian after Vijender Singh at Beijing in 2008 and Mary Kom at London in 2012 to clinch an Olympic medal in boxing. At 23, Lovlina Borgohain also becomes one of the youngest Olympic medalists in India’s history. In addition, she also follows in the footsteps of the likes of Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Vijay Kumar and P.V. Sindhu to win an Olympic medal in their maiden appearance.
The remarkable story will continue for Lovlina Borgohain, as she will take on Turkey’s Busenaz Surmeneli in the semi-final bout. Whatever happens from here on, Lovlina Borgohain has etched her name into Indian sporting folklore.