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Meena Rani on being Six-time National Champion: “It feels like a rebirth for me”

Meena Rani, Six Sports

Meena Rani had an eye injury in the quarter-finals and yet she won her sixth title in 60kg Fifth Elite Women National Boxing Championship. Meena had a split of 3:2 Verdict over Jasmine of Haryana.

Her kids, Shanvi and Arthav, saw her swollen eye when she won the gold medal. She was lost in the memories when she won her first National boxing title. When Meena Rani reached her home at Hisar’s Police Lines on Wednesday, it certainly brought her immense euphoria. 

“All my senior national titles had come prior to my marriage and to return home with my sixth in the same category, which I dominated once, feels like a rebirth for me. My children are happy to see another medal going in the trophy cabinet, which they proudly show to their friends. That’s my biggest motivation, All my senior national titles had come prior to my marriage and to return home with my sixth in the same category, which I dominated once, feels like a rebirth for me. My children are happy to see another medal going in the trophy cabinet, which they proudly show to their friends. That’s my biggest motivation,”

shares Meena Rani, while speaking with The Indian Express.

The swollen eye takes some shrugging.

“Boxing mein agar maarte ho toh maar khate bhi ho (In boxing, if one punches then gets punched too). And like any mother, I don’t want my kids to see me getting hit,”

she states. 

Meena Rani’s roots

Meena Rani is a native of Palwal, near Faridabad. Her love for boxing began when national coach Anup spotted her at her school nationals. She won the RSC and then Anup Kumar urged her to join the SAI center of Hisar.

She thought of quitting sports in 2006 because she missed her home. After 2 years, Rani won her first of the five national titles in 60 kg in Agra. She continued her winning streak until 2012.

Meena Rani, Six Sports

Meena’s life after marriage

Rani got married in the year 2011. In 2012, she reached the quarter-finals of the 64kg World Championship in China but unfortunately lost to Mikaela Mayer of USA .

“It was a time when women’s boxing was not in the Olympics and it was only post my marriage that three Olympic weights were finalised for the 2012 Games. I missed the medal in 64 Kg in 2012 world championships narrowly and with the Federation too getting banned, I took a break from boxing,”

remembers Rani.

In 2014 after Rani gave birth to her daughter, she once again returned to boxing in 2016. She weighed 80 kg and after training won the Bronze in the 75kg Nationals. Meena lost to Kavita Goyat.

She also won a Silver in the Seven Nations Cup in Serbia. However, she lost in the World Championship in the first round itself. After that a year later, her son was born and she took another break thereafter.

When Rani got married, she had thought of qualifying for the London Olympics but eventually that didn’t happen. After the birth of her daughter, she gained a lot of weight. Her husband Manoj Kumar shifted to take care of their daughter. 

She started to train and focus on losing weight. Sometimes she even had to take her daughter to train when her husband was unable to look after her. 

Meena’s comeback

In 2019, she returned in the 69 kg and won silver. She even came third in the trails of the Tokyo Olympics behind Lovlina Borgohain and Lalita.

“As women, we also understand our responsibilities but then I could not have made this comeback without the support of my husband and his parents,”

she said.

After her silver in the Nationals, Mary Kom met with her and said

“Arey, tum wapis aa Gaya boxing main. Bahut acha hai.”

Rani further says,

At 32 years of age, I know there is a pressure to prove myself constantly at this point of my career and there is no better inspiration for me than Mary didi. Whenever I feel low, I see her biopic or the recent Bollywood movie Panga, which almost resembles my comeback,

Meena Rani will next head to Turkey for the AIBA Women World Championship scheduled to be held in December. Sagar Mal Dayal, the head coach of the Railways boxing team, has seen her from the age of 17. He thinks her biggest strength is her willpower and the fighting attitude.

“We had a 57-day training camp in Guwahati and she made sure that she did not skip her training even during her periods. The light-weight category needs strength and speed and she can even qualify for Paris 2024. Her right straight and left hook combinations are as lethal as they were in 2008 and she still has many years of boxing left in her,”

says Dhayal.

“If we can achieve this, then many more women can achieve the same and prove to the society that they need to support every single woman in achieving their dreams,”

Rani embodies this message of persistence for other women.

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