On Friday, Parveen Hooda added another feather to her cap by bagging the gold in the ASBC Asian Elite Boxing Championships in Amman, Jordan. The 22-year-old, who was also making her first appearance in the Asian Championships final, defeated Japan’s Kito Mai in the women’s 63kg final with a 5:0 victory by unanimous decision.

The 2022 World Championships bronze medalist had an incredible campaign at the tournament. She continued her streak of dominance by registering a comprehensive 5:0 triumph over Thailand’s Panpatchara Somnuek in the quarterfinal, before bossing her semi-final matchup against Uranbileg Shinetsetseg of Mongolia.

Following her golden run in Jordan, she spoke to Scroll.in, saying, “I’m feeling great because I worked really hard and then to see the result of it is satisfying.”

Moments before her hand was raised in the final, it almost looked like Parveen had the urge to pace around but couldn’t, as she stood next to the referee, waiting for her hand to be raised. There was a glimpse of nervousness but at the back of her mind, she knew she had become champion.

Also read: Boxing: Parveen Hooda went from a fighter in school to a boxer with a World C’ships bronze

“I had won the two rounds one-sided but the pressure of a final and the feeling before you are announced champion is bound to make you nervous. I kept thinking, ‘What if her hand is raised instead?!’ (laughs). In boxing, one can never be sure, you know,” she recalled of the moment she was announced the Asian champion.

Even before the final she had looked gold standard right when she completed the commanding win over Shinetsetseg in the semi-final. However, despite a tricky draw, she trusted her hardwork and preparation and it showed in that bout.

Dissecting her performance there, she said, “The semifinalist was a tough opponent because she is very experienced and she has also played a few professional bouts. I was a bit nervous, honestly speaking, but one also performs better under pressure.”

She added: “I was watching her bouts in the tournament earlier and I must have watched them at least ten times. After that, I completely understood her game and what tactics I must employ against her. There was also a two-three day gap for my final so I watched it often and visualised how she would punch against me. In the ring, the same thing happened then and so I was able to play very easily. Whatever I had planned, I was executing and I think that’s why that fight went really well.”

Parveen had quietly been rising among the ranks but it was the World Championships bronze that truly touted her as one of the Indian boxers to watch out for. However, she faced disappointment soon after, when she failed to qualify for the Commonwealth Games squad, losing to eventual bronze medallist Jasmine Lomboria in the domestic trials. Of course, it was playing on her mind that she could go for back-to-back medals but it was a setback that set her on her path again.

“You know, the eventual champion (Amy Broadhurst, at the CWG) was the same boxer I lost against in the Worlds by a 4:1 split decision. So I kept thinking that I would have definitely defeated her this time and become the Commonwealth Games champion.”

She added, “But honestly speaking, I had not prepared very well for the CWG trials. I had returned from the Worlds and caught a fever for a good 10-15 days and the preparation simply wasn’t good enough. But I think it is okay that I got a medal (at the World Championships) and then, immediately a fold down. That is quite important too. So I worked harder for this tournament and won the gold.”

She, however, had the support of her family, friends and coaches who said that she must go on and become a champion simply by virtue of becoming No 3 in the World Championships. While a decision on changing weight class has not yet been made, her immediate focus right now remains on Nationals that are likely to be held in December. That is followed by the 2023 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championship that will be hosted by India. The boxing calendar then will prioritise the Asian Games to be held in September 2023.

Talking about how she plans to celebrate the gold, Parveen said, “I had missed my favourite festival Diwali and so this time when I go back home, I will celebrate a belated Diwali.”