Alfiya Pathan: another rising star on Indian boxing scene

Story by  ATV | Posted by  Aasha Khosa | Date 28-07-2022
Alfiya Pathan
Alfiya Pathan


Nakul Shivani/New Delhi

Think of breaking stereotypes. A young Muslim girl takes up a grueling sport like Boxing, dons the India jersey, and goes on beat a former World champion.

That’s what 19-year-old Alfiya Pathan of Nagpur has done. The youngest of three siblings recently won a Gold medal at the Elorda Cup held in Kazhakstan’s capital Nur-Sultan.  She defeated the 2016 world champion Lazzat Kungeibayeva in the 81+ weight category in the final.

Incidentally, this was her debut outing in the senior category.

Daughter of a Maharashtra Police official Alfiya took up Boxing when she was 13 years old. Watching her elder brothers play sports, Alfiya soon took a liking to the physical gruel it demanded. Boxing was fun and tough, just the kind of activity she liked.

Speaking exclusively to Awaz-the Voice Alfiya traced her journey from the Purohit Boxing Academy in Nagpur to the hallowed SAI academy in Rohtak where she is currently training and dreaming of winning an Olympic medal.

Alfiya with other Indian medal winners at an international boxing tournament

“My family is passionate about sports. I tried my hand at all sorts of sports like badminton and shot put. Watching my brother do Boxing inspired me to don the gloves. I found it exciting”, she says.

“Coincidentally, during my summer break, legendary Boxer Mary Kom’s biopic was released. It gave me goosebumps. After watching the movie, I knew what I wanted to do.”

Didn't she face resistance from the family?

"Yes, initially coming from a conservative Muslim family, it was not an idea immediately liked by my parents. I had to work hard to convince my father.”

But once her father agreed to send her to a Boxing Academy, there was no looking back. “My father was very supportive. He didn’t allow me to be bothered with what my neighbours or relatives said. He just didn’t let any negative talk come to me. He was my shield.”

In 2016, the year she started boxing, she won a gold in the sub-junior age category in the State championship. Next year came a Silver medal in her first School National championship in Gwalior. There was no looking back after this.

Alfiya displaying her medal at Elorda Cup

“The medals gave me confidence and made me more determined to continue playing the sport seriously.”

In a very short period, Alfiya moved from strength to strength. A Gold medal in the Inaugural Khelo India games in 2017 gave her a ticket to the Junior India camp and bigger dreams.

“I started dreaming big when I won a medal in an Open Invitational championship in Serbia.”

Four years later she got the India team call.

With her graduation from the junior to senior category, the canvass too became bigger.

Also Read: Kashmir's Tabeen Muzaffar selected for world boxing event

I am dreaming of winning a medal for India at the Olympics. 2028 is a realistic target for me.”

Comparisons with Tokyo Olympic Bronze medalist Nikhat Zareen are obvious. Their stories are similar. Both come from Muslim conservative families, and both have broken a stereotype. Alfiya is sure about what she wants to be when pressed about her thoughts at the comparison.

“I want to establish my own identity. I want to be known as the best boxer in my category.” Alfiya signs off.