“She gave her Arjuna Award prize money for the treatment of her mother’s kidney ailment,” Tiken Borgohain told NDTV as he recounted his daughter Lovlina’s fights outside the ring that were far tougher than those inside it.
Mr Borgohain is seated at their home in Baromukhia, a remote village in Assam’s Golaghat district.
Hours later, his daughter will take on Turkey’s B Surmeneli in the semi-final bout of women’s welterweight boxing at Tokyo Olympics. Lovlina is already assured of a medal, but she has said “there is only one medal and that is gold”.
Mr Borgohain said Lovlina is the youngest of his three daughters. “I used to be mostly away from home for work. Their mother would stay with them back here. It was her idea that they should learn martial arts for self-defence. That’s how it began,” he said.
“Her elder twin sisters were into Muay Thai and kick-boxing. Lovlina also joined in. She won a medal in sub-junior nationals without proper training. Between 2012 and 2020, she developed herself as a boxer,” Mr Borgohain said.
“She is full of dogged determination. Once she wanted to have a swimming pool. How could we afford that? So Lovlina and her sisters dug a small pond. Even now when she comes home, she swims in it,” Mr Borgohain recalled.
He said people would taunt them as “there is no son in our house”. “My daughters took a challenge to prove that they would do everything a son can do.”
Last year, Lovlina received the Arjuna Award for her performance in boxing.
“She never lost hope, even when our finances were not good. It was an emotional moment when she came to meet her mother for two days before her operation. She had been selected for the Olympics and training was in full swing. Her mother told her that she should concentrate only on her game,” said Mr Borgohain.
He said it had been Lovlina’s dream to go to the Olympics and win a medal. “She was not particularly happy after the quarter-finals. For her, medal means gold. I hope she goes to the final and wins a gold for the nation. I hope the country prays for her and may God be with her,” he said.