Nepal's boxing team trains for the Asian Games in September in Korea
Basil Edward Teo
Coach Om Kumar Maskey demonstrates a defensive boxing technique to Minu Gurung during a day of technical training and strength and conditioning.
Minu Gurung listened carefully and followed her boxing coach as she trained at the Dasrath Stadium this week. Two months to go for the 2014 Asian Games
in Korea, Nepal’s boxing team is intensifying its training.
Whistle in one hand and timer on the other, Gurung’s coach Om Kumar Maskey locks his sights on her as she bobs and weaves away from her sparring partner. He shouts instructions: “Block! Power! Box!”
Gurung, 24, is here six days a week twice daily with the team of ten boxers who go through a mix of strength and conditioning, technical training and sparring sessions.
“In the last Asian Games, boxing was the only sport to bring Nepal a bronze medal,” says Maskey, who has high hopes for Gurung, the youngest boxer in the team.
Minu joined the army five years ago just so she could join the National Boxing Team. “I hope to win a gold medal in September in Korea,” she says simply, but with determination.
The Nepal boxing team has eight men and two women. Most are from the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force. Only one is a civilian. While the selection process if open to all, security personnel have an edge due to their discipline, physical fitness and budget for training.
Coming from a family of athletes, Gurung was imbued with a fighting spirit since she was young. Her mother was a competitive hockey and football player, and her elder brother is also a boxer in the Indian Army.
“My mother and brother were always supportive of me,” she says, “but my father disapproves of my boxing, since he thinks it is a brutal sport.”
In the ring, Gurung gets no special treatment just because she is a woman. She trains with the guys, and sparring with bigger and stronger opponents is no problem as she relies on technique and speed.
“I may not be a hard puncher with knockout power, but I have good defence and I am also a good counter fighter,” says Gurung who is guaranteed a slot with the other female boxer, 24-year-old Anuradha Lama. The male team will select five from the eight undergoing training.
Lama lands a straight left on a teammate who fights at a weight class 10kg higher.
Purna Bahadur Lama, a boxer from the Armed Police Force, is the oldest member on the team. Although the veteran first laced up his gloves at 16, this is the first time he got selected to be on the team for the Asian Games.
At 33, he gets tired more easily and takes longer to recover between rounds of sparring and work on the punching bag. The average age on the team is 25.
“This will be my first Asian Games, but it might also be my last,” he admits, “my body is not what it used to be.”
After Korea, Gurung plans to compete in the Asian Boxing Championship in December, and hopes to represent Nepal in the 2016 Olympics.
She says: “I have big dreams but I also have the willpower to make them come true.”
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