Dictating the tempo in all three rounds of her Olympic qualifiers’ quarter-final bout against Uzbekistan’s Maftunakhon Melieva, Assam's pugilist Lovlina Borgohain represented India successfully, beating her women’s welterweight 69 kg category opponent by unanimous decision.
While she was unable to advance any further in the competition, losing out to China's Gu Hong in the Olympic qualifiers semi-final, she had, nonetheless, achieved what she sought to do — bag her first Olympic berth, along with eight other Indian boxers.
At just 23 years old, pugilist Lovlina Borgohain is just getting started, compared to the vast experience of Mary Kom, her Olympic bronze-medallist compatriot who also hails from Northeast India. However, her fiery resolve in the ring bodes well for her chances of reaching the same highs.
Lovlina Borgohain was born in the Golaghat district of Assam on October 2, 1997. Like so many successful sportspersons, she first drew her sporting inspiration from her siblings, in this case, her elder sisters Licha and Lima, both of whom boxed at the national level.
At just 13, she took up Muay Thai. A fortunate encounter with renowned Indian boxing coach Padum Boro, who spotted the talent during a Sports Authority of India boxing trial steered her to amateur boxing.
Under the steady tutelage of Padum Boro, and later by Chief Women's Coach Shiv Singh, boxer Lovlina Borgohain’s training finally bore fruit in 2017.
At the President’s Cup in Astana, Kazakhstan, she won the bronze medal, and later that same year, she added another bronze to her kitty at the Asian Boxing Championships held in Vietnam.
Stepping up at the Commonwealth Games
Those results, combined with a gold medal at the India Open 2018, saw her get selected for the 2018 Commonwealth Games squad, in the welterweight category. Although she lost to Sandy Ryan 2-3 in the quarter-finals, her spirited bout against the Brit, who went on to win a gold medal at the event in Gold Coast, earned her plaudits and immensely boosted her credibility as a pugilist.
After she won the bronze medal in both the 2018 and 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships held in Ulan-Ude, Russia, there was no doubt left about her potential to be someone India could count on to do the country proud on the Olympic stage.
That year, she also clinched the silver medal at the Ulaanbaatar Cup in Mongolia and won the bronze at the 13th International Silesian Championship in Poland.
The selectors saw it that way too, and she backed them up by winning her Boxing Federation of India trials, which allowed her the chance to join the Indian boxers’ contingent for the Olympic qualifiers and book a ticket for the 2020 Olympics.
The Assam effect
Lovlina Borgohain’s exploits on the world stage have further added to the credibility of her home state Assam’s ability to produce boxers of note, adding to the list of such names as Jamuna Boro and Bhagyabati Kachari.
Her success when she has represented India has helped keep the spark alive among the next generation of boxers from Northeast India and give them something to live up to.
Names like 2019 World Championships bantamweight bronze-medallist Ankushita Boro (64kg under-21), Irfan Khan (49kg under-21) and Bulen (Buragohain) led the list of 35 boxers Assam fielded at the recent Khelo India Youth Games and they came away with a combined total of 19 medals, including one gold medal, four silver and 14 bronze.
What’s next for pugilist Lovlina Borgohain
With no upcoming fixtures and an Olympic berth in hand, boxer Lovlina Borgohain, ranked third in the world in the 69 kg category, will be training furiously alongside her fellow Indian boxers with the hope of achieving the dream of a medal at the 2020 Olympics in July.