Itanagar: Unwavering determination and unwavering spirit have propelled up-and-coming boxer from Arunachal Pradesh, Nenthok Hodong, to face adversity in his own way. At the age of 16, the boxer stood out among his contemporaries when he was declared the ‘best boxer’ of the 5 recently concluded.he National Junior Boxing Championship at the Don Bosco Complex, here. And to top it off, the gold medalist in the 54kg weight class could very well be knocking on the doors of the national camp very soon.
A calm and collected character outside of the ring, Nenthok comes across as a soft-spoken lad, taking part in training sessions after winning his semi-final bout against Assam’s Abhinash Das via 3-2 split decision. In the crowning clash of the bantamweight class, the feisty boxer showed the aggressive best of his by defeating Devang of the Services Sports Control Board (SSCB) by a 4-1 margin.
growing up in a remote Dibang Valley District With limited sports facilities and opportunities, he was met with both personal and professional setbacks. However, he refused to let these obstacles define him.
Interestingly, this was his first appearance in a national championship, since he had missed the national sub-juniors, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic. And by the time the sub-junior national championships resumed after a gap of more than two years, he was well past the required age.
For the teenager, this was a minor setback as he had overcome worse scenarios in his personal life.
Raised by his maternal uncle (Napung), Nenthok lost his parents when he was just 5 or 6 years old. The third of four siblings, Nenthok’s older sister is married and has an older brother who is a freshman in college and a younger sister who is a 10th year student.he standard.
“I lost my parents very early in life… I was maybe around 5 or 6 years old, I don’t remember the exact age. First we lost our father to tuberculosis and a year later our mother passed away. We were very small, and if it were not for our maternal uncle, we cannot imagine our life today. At that time, we heard people say that our mother was infected because she had closely cared for our father during her illness, ”he recounted, recalling the loss of her.
“Our maternal uncle took care of the four of us, married off my older sister, and wherever he has gone today, the credit is his.”
“I want to dedicate this gold medal to my uncle,” he said proudly.
Looking back on his boxing journey, Nenthok said he got his start in the sport around the age of 11 after his uncle discovered his talent and decided to enroll him in a local academy. And from then on there was no turning back for the youngster when he passed the tests for the famous Sangey Lhaden Sports Academy.
“Since childhood, I always liked sports, so my uncle felt that he could make a career out of it. He took me to some boxing academies in our Dibang district, and after that I sat for the district tryouts to get a seat at Sangay Lhaden Sports Academy (near Itanagar). And luckily things worked out for me when I passed the tests in 2018,” he said.
“My relatives have always supported me a lot. They made sure I didn’t miss out on my dietary requirements and everything I need to maintain my boxing career.”
“The most important thing is that I will always be grateful to my maternal uncle and my loved ones for letting us live our childhood and making us able to stand up,” he said.
However, two years into his training and all set to participate in his first national championship at the junior level, the Covid-19 pandemic struck, disrupting sporting action in every country. Back home from a good couple of years without championships on the national circuit, Nenthok had to wait another year for the biggest test of his brief career.
“But two years into my training at the academy, covid-19 hit and we were sent back home. For the next two years there were no championships, so I lost the opportunity to participate in the sub-junior category, ”he said.
Cut to July 2023, Nenthok knew the odds were stacked against him, but he was never intimidated despite facing opponents with better resources and training.
“This was my first national championship, and the icing on the cake was that it was held in front of the home crowd,” he said.
“Participating in familiar territory has its advantages and disadvantages. And coming from Arunachal Pradesh, who are way behind big teams like the Services, you have to redouble your efforts in training to make your presence felt. I’m happy that I was able to beat boxers from such big teams to win gold. It was a good test of my abilities and of any training I have undergone over the years.”
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“It is also a matter of prestige for the state, and that was what was on my mind once I reached the final. But in each match, I came away with a free mind. Izzat ka sawal tha (It was a matter of honor). We are the hosts, and all I wanted was to give my 100 percent for the gold,” he said with a wide smile before running back to the podium as the announcer declared him the best fighter of the tournament.
Well, Nenthok’s journey to success is not just about his prowess in the ring, but also a testament to the ability of the human spirit to triumph over adversity.