Bhiwani’s Ravina was the reigning Asian youth champion and so the expectations from her at the IBA Youth Men’s and Women’s World Boxing Championships in Spain were high.
Not only did she fulfil those expectations and become champion but she did it whilst banking on her strength... it wasn’t just her impeccable speed, her decisive punches or her smooth footwork, it was self-belief in addition to all that, that pushed her to outclass Netherland’s Megan De Cler in the women’s 63kg final.
She did not get the ideal start as her Dutch opponent was judged to have taken the first round on all five cards. Things weren’t looking bright even in the second round as she continued to trail on the card. She knew she needed a massive comeback in the third round and she had to ensure her performance did not plateau even as her body tired out.
And bounce back, she did.
Eventually, the entire bout was sent for review at the end of the third round and as a result, Ravina emerge victorious by a 4:3 Bout Review split decision.
“My first round wasn’t that great but I still did not think that I would lose to this opponent, I remained determine,” Ravina told Scroll.in. I kept thinking jeetna hi jeetna hai, haarna toh bilkul nahi hai (I have to win. There is no way I can lose this). After the final round, the entire fight went for a review but I just had a feeling that I would win.”
“I was a little tensed as I kept wondering whose hand will be raised but I also had the belief inside that it would be mine.”
The 18-year-old believes that it was the most rewarding moment in her life so far because the feeling of becoming a champion after working so hard just hit different.
“Before the bout, I kept thinking about how this is the last step before I become [youth] world champion. I have to win it anyhow. After the end of it, my parents’ faces flashed before me,” Ravina recalled.
“We had a one-month camp in Rohtak for training and we left for Spain on November 11. Initially, it was a little difficult to adjust to the change in schedule but we got used to it and started preparing with three fights a week, training twice or thrice a week, making sure our routine is foolproof and ate according to our prescribed diet.”
Support, belief and inspiration
Ravina was always interested in pursuing sports over academics but took up boxing in the ninth grade only after her brother Sahil sustained an injury to his nose and quit the sport. Over time, she became seriously interested in it and her motivation to go international only increased once she reached the state and national level.
“I just wanted to play for the country after that,” said Ravina.
But through these dreams and the journey she embarked upon, getting support was important. Her parents fully backed her ambition and were dancing when she clinched the gold, but it was specifically the support of her eldest sister that Ravina considers most dear to her.
“When I was younger, I was very short-tempered and would often fight with my siblings,” Ravina said. “I would fight with my sisters Sarita and Sonu a lot, but not so much now. Today, my sister is my biggest support. She understands me and what I am going through.”
“I remember I had once lost at the state level and became demotivated. I remember her words then and she simply encouraged me saying, ‘Abhi toh bas shuruat hai, dheere dheere kar ke seekh jaaegi’ (It is just the start, you will learn slowly).”
Ravina’s goal is to perform well even at the senior level and eventually, make it to the Olympics. She hopes to work on her speed and accuracy in the process and take inspiration from Olympic gold medalist, American professional boxer and MMA player Claressa Shields.
“Her attitude, the way she channels her aggression in the fight. I especially like the fact that despite being in the light middleweight category, her movements are very swift,” said Ravina about Shields.
Ravina not only took home the gold medal at the Youth World Championships but also a big learning that will stay with her for life. The last round in the final reaffirmed the power of believing in herself even if the odds are stacked against her.
She said, “A lot of times, the training wouldn’t go well and so dejection would follow. I would start feeling like leaving everything and tell myself that it doesn’t matter anyway, training hoti toh hai nahi (I am not training well any way).”
“But once you persist... Agar khud pe vishwaas hoga toh jeet itni duur nahi lagegi, jeet hi jaayenge phir. (If one belives in oneself, victory doesn’t seem too far away. It comes eventually).”