Packing a punch
Fifteen-year-old Niharika Gonella, who won a silver medal at the AIBA Women’s Junior and Youth Boxing Championship held in Taiwan last month, has been fond of sports for as long as she can remember.
First it was gymnastics, then handball, volleyball and finally she started training as a boxer in December 2013, after boxing coach Srinivas Rao told her that she had the height and build to make it big.
Niharika, who idolises boxer Nikhat Zareen, says, “As an individual sport, boxing gives me a chance to stand out on my own. So, once I decided that I wanted to pursue it further, my parents agreed to send me to the Sports Authority of India training centre in Vizag because we don’t have good training facilities for boxers in Hyderabad.”
Despite a medal on her maiden international outing, Niharika is a little disappointed on not making it to the top. But now her resolve is much stronger. As a student of Class X, she manages to put in around six to seven hours of training on school days and about 10 hours on weekends and holidays.
“I also try and study at least one hour every day. The best part about sports is that it refreshes your mind and increases your concentration levels so it never gets very hectic for me,” she says.
At home for summer vacation, Niharika has also started learning the guitar. She’ll be heading back to Vizag this week with her sister, Naganika, who is also training to be a boxer.
A soft-spoken girl, Niharika says, “Boxing is less about aggression and more about how you are able to implement the techniques that you are taught. It is a mind game, and I have really come to enjoy it.”