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Star Boxer Who Shares Her Prize-Winnings With The Less-Privileged In Her Village:
Mandeep Kaur Sandhu

An Interview by SUHRID BARUA

 

 

 





Chakar, a nondescript hamlet tucked away in the Ludhiana district of Punjab, has been catapulted into spotlight, following the exploits of boxer Mandeep Kaur Sandhu in the AIBA World Junior Boxing Championship at Taipei (Taiwan).

The 16-year-old Sikh-Punjabi shot into prominence winning the 52-kg gold medal outboxing Ireland’s Niamh Earley in the final.

Mandeep owes her success to Sher-e-Punjab Sports Academy, where she has been training since 2010. The youngster, who had won the 2011 and 2012 National Sub-junior Titles, had earlier in the year picked up a gold medal in the 4th Junior Nations Boxing Cup held in Serbia.

The coy pugilist, who is otherwise ruthless in the ring, spoke about her boxing, among other things, in an exclusive interview.


Question:   How special was it winning the gold medal in the AIBA World Junior Boxing Championship at Taipei (Taiwan)?

Answer:   I wanted to perform well in the World Junior Boxing Championship as it is a big event. I’m feeling good that I was able to win a gold medal. There is nothing like doing well in the World Championships.

Q:   You outboxed Ireland’s Niamh Earley to clinch the gold medal in the 52-kg category. Tell us about your bout.

A:   My Irish opponent was a tough nut to crack. The gold medal did not come on a platter as I had to be at my best to beat her. It was a closely fought bout, but I had the last laugh with a 3-0 scoreline.

Q:   You fought a total of four bouts en route to the gold medal finish. Share us your experiences of those bouts.

A:   I faced a boxer from England in my first round and managed to pull it off in a facile manner. My quarter-final and semi-final bouts against Hungarian and French opponents went right down to the wire. Both opponents were throwing punches at me, but I boxed better than them to reach the final.

Q:   How was the atmosphere when you returned to your village Chakar in Punjab, after returning from Taiwan?

A:   I had won many medals at the national level and I was thinking why the reaction from my family members and people from my village was different this time around. A lot of people visited me and congratulated me – sweets were distributed and everyone burst into celebrations, something I was not used to earlier. The encouragement from my near and dear ones as well as my fans and supporters will surely spur me to chase more glory in future.

Q:   Do you receive any financial rewards for winning the World Championship gold medal?

A:   The Punjab government, as well as diaspora Sikhs who hail from my village, have honoured me with financial rewards. In total, I have received a cash award of Rs. 1.5 million, 25% of which I have donated for the poor and under-privileged people of my village, so that they too can pursue sports.

Q:   Your boxing career really took shape when you joined the Sher-e-Punjab Boxing Academy, run by brothers late Ajmer Singh Sidhu and Baldev Singh Sidhu from the diaspora. How much do you think you owe your World Championship gold medal to this academy?

A:   I owe everything to Sher-e-Punjab Boxing Academy as without their support it would have been not possible for me to come this far. Both Ajmer Singh ji and Baldev Singh ji encouraged me a lot and Ajmer Singh ji, who died last year, had once said one day a boxer from this academy will play in the Olympics. My coaches Balwant Singh Sandhu and Surinder Kaur have really guided me and their contribution is something I can never forget.

Q:   Talking of Olympics, ideally, you are setting your sights at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

A:   I cannot take part in the selection trials for the 2016 Rio Olympics because of the age criterion. But I’m definitely looking to make a mark in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.


[Courtesy: Sportskeeda. Edited for sikhchic.com]
June 23, 2015
 

Conversation about this article

1: Baldev Singh (Bradford, United Kingdom), June 23, 2015, 9:30 AM.

What a smart, handsome young lady with an extraordinary story. Mandeep, you are further extraordinary for having the Sikh spirit of Vundh chhakna (sharing her earnings and rewards) with the less fortunate members of her community. You are not just a champion boxer, Mandeep Kaur ji, but a superstar to want others to follow the sporting ethos!

2: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), June 23, 2015, 3:00 PM.

Mandeep, you have done us proud and deserve even more. Yet, "kaho Naanak sabh tayree vadi-aa-e ko-ee naa-o na jaanai mayra" [GGS:383.12] - "Says Nanak, this is all Your greatness, no one even knows my name."

3: Pardeep Singh Nagra (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), June 23, 2015, 9:35 PM.

The Sidhu brothers have been a mainstay in not only the Punjabi Sikh community sports scene, but have always pushed into the greater community. I was aware of their efforts in Punjab as well. The Gold is a great tribute to the late Ajmer Singh Sidhu. No better way to honour his legacy than to bring home a Gold. Congratulations.

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Mandeep Kaur Sandhu"









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