New Delhi: India capped off an outstanding campaign by finishing with the highest gold medals (four) at the IBA Women's World Boxing Championship after the nation's illustrious pugilists Nikhat Zareen and Lovlina Borgohain recorded stellar victories by contrasting margins in the finals at the Indira Gandhi Sports Complex here on Sunday.
The reigning World champion Nikhat (50kg) defeated Nguyem Thi Tam of Vietnam to win gold for a second consecutive year at the tournament while the Tokyo Olympics bronze medallist Lovlina (75kg) claimed her maiden Worlds gold with a 5-2 win on points after the bout was reviewed against Caitlin Parker of Australia. Alongside Nikhat and Lovlina, 2022 Commonwealth Games medallist Nitu Ghanghas (48kg) and three-time Asian medallist Saweety Boora (81kg) were the other gold medallists for the hosts. All pugilists were rewarded with INR 82.7 lakhs ($100,000) each in prize money for becoming World Champions.
"Congratulations @LovlinaBorgohai for her stupendous feat at the Boxing World Championships. She showed great skill. India is delighted by her winning the Gold medal," tweeted PM Narendra Modi.
"Congratulations to @nikhat_zareen for her spectacular victory at the World Boxing Championships and winning a Gold. She is an outstanding champion whose success has made India proud on many occasions," tweeted PM Narendra Modi.
Applauding the gold medallists, Ajay Singh, the President of Boxing Federation of India said, "We are extremely proud of all pugilists that have scripted history with their gold medals. Securing four gold medals at home in front of such a passionate crowd is a fabulous achievement. The performances of these pugilists will undoubtedly inspire young girls from the country to win medals and elevate Indian boxing to greater heights. Everyone at BFI would like to congratulate Nikhat, Nitu, Lovlina and Saweety on their remarkable accomplishments and we are looking forward to seeing more of the same from them in the upcoming Asian Games."
Living up to her name, the tenacious Nikhat (50kg) oozed class in her rampant display against the two-time Asian champion Nguyen as she asserted her dominance in the bout from the word go by landing accurate punches and using her quick feet to dodge the Vietnamese's attacks.. The 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medallist maintained her composure throughout the bout and proved why she's one of the best in the business with a sensational attacking display that helped her seal the win by unanimous decision.
With this victory, Nikhat became only the second Indian female pugilist to win two golds at the World Championships alongside the boxing legend Mary Kom who has claimed a record six gold medals in the competition.
"I am extremely delighted to become World Champion for the second time especially in a different category. Today's bout was my toughest in the entire tournament and since this was the last match of the tournament I wanted to utilize my energy completely and leave everything in the ring. It was a rollercoaster of a bout with both of us getting warnings as well as eight counts and it was very close. My strategy in the last round was to go all out and attack and I felt very happy when my hand was lifted as the winner. This medal is for India and for everyone who have supported us throughout the tournament," said Nikhat after her bout.
Competing in her first World Championships final, Lovlina faced a tough challenge against the two-time Commonwealth Games medallist Parker but produced a world class display to come out on top in the closely contested matchup. The bout went to and fro with the Indian edging out her opponent with a 3-2 margin in the first round before the Australian coming back to prevail in the next round by 4-1. Ultimately, the 25-year-old Assam born pugilist utilized her vast experience and supreme technical ability to outpunch her opponent and add a secure her third Worlds medal.
"I feel happy on becoming the World Champion and win the gold for my country. As the opponent was strong we changed the strategy for the bout according to her gameplay. Our plan was to fight the first two rounds on the front foot and then play counter-attacks in the last round from distance. I had won bronze in 2018 and 2019 so it feels good to change the colour of the medals to gold," said Lovlina after the bout.
This is the second time in history that India have won four gold medals at the Women's World Boxing Championships other occasion being in 2006 when Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Jenny Lalremliani and Lekha K.C had won gold for the country.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympics medallists Huang Hsiao-Wen of Chinese Taipei (54kg) and Beatriz Ferreira (60kg) of Brazil also secured their second World Championships gold after registering identical victories against Colombian opponents. While the Taiwanese beat Arias Castaneda Yeni Marcela by 5-0, the Brazilian ousted Valdez Pana Angie Paola with the same scoreline.
With a massive prize pool of INR 20 crore, the prestigious event witnessed the participation of 324 boxers, including several Olympic medallists, from 65 countries fighting for the titles in the 12 weight categories.
Indian medallists: Gold: Nitu Ghanghas (48kg), Nikhat Zareen (50kg), Lovlina Borgohain (75) and Saweety Boora (81kg).