In sports transitioning from the youth to the senior category is one topsy-turvy ride but there are few athletes who do it with ease and style and a similar thing can be said about Alfiya Pathan who stunned former World Champion Lazzat Kungeibavyeva to take home gold in her first senior international outing at the Elorda Cup in Kazakhstan.
Coming from a sporting background, sports have been a part of Alfiya’s life for a long time. Talking to The Bridge she says, “I have been around sports since my childhood but I was not related to boxing. I participated in numerous school competitions across different disciplines such as shot put, skating and many more”.
“I used to play badminton as a kid to keep myself fit in a nearby stadium but never thought of taking it up as a career. My brother used to box and I would watch him after my practice”.
In fact, the release of the movie Mary Kom was one of the biggest reasons which made her choose boxing.
“Meri zid ho gayi thi Mary Kom film dekh ke ki mujhe toh abhi khelna hi hai aur maine bahut zid ki, aakhir me sab mann hi gaye” (It became an obsession for me after watching the film Mary Kom that I have to play boxing and I kept fighting for it till everyone else was convinced), chuckles Alfiya.
It wasn’t as easy as it looks like coming from a Muslim family. She had already been to Haj (religious pilgrimage to Mecca) which wouldn’t allow her to go out much, after that. She eventually convinced them with her dedication and her stubbornness to play boxing.
“Family has been a big support for me once I started my journey. There were tournaments where I won everything and there were tournaments where I won nothing, they supported me in both the cases”.
Alfiya with her World Youth Championship Medal
Alfiya credits both coaches Ganesh Purohit and Bhaskar Bhatt for her improved game and rise at the international level.
“I will be happy when I go to the national camp as I will get to work with Bhaskar Sir again. He was the coach of the youth team when I won the Youth World Championships. He has helped me with the technical aspect of the game where I was lacking and used to be my weak areas. It will be helpful for me as he knows my game in and out”.
Alfiya suffered a setback when she lost National Championship in Sonepat after winning the Youth World Championships. But being the fighter she is, she worked in her weaker areas and made sure she marks her entry at the top level with a bang.
Talking about her experience on this international trip, Alfiya explains “This was an enriching experience for me as in India there are not many boxers in India in 75+ KG country. Training with the Kazakh boxers and Chinese boxers, I improved my technicalities and it helped my confidence also as I saw my opponents and their game”.
Interestingly, She had no idea who her opponent is and just went with her game ahead. “I think not knowing much about my opponent helped me as I played the game without pressure. I had a tiny bit of an idea who she was but I think it was not even necessary to know much”, says Alfiya.
A bright future lies ahead for her and this is just the start of the journey. Will she replicates her idol Mary Kom or not that is a story for time to tell but she is on the right track for sure.