Breaking barriers: Inspiring story of Nagaland’s first female boxing coach
DIMAPUR — Tsungchetrenla Tzudir, the first and only female boxing coach from Nagaland to get an International Boxing Association (IBA) 2-Star certification, is an inspiration to many aspiring women boxers.
From winning a silver medal at the North East Sports festival in Mizoram way back in 2003 to her stint as national team coach (2010-2017), she has come a long way, but not without struggles.
In a conversation with Eastern Mirror, the trailblazer shared her initial struggles, unconditional support from her parents who introduced her to boxing at a young age and the current state of women’s boxing in Nagaland.
“As a boxer, I couldn’t achieve the highest level which I wanted due to lack of coaches, lack of training facilities and no sports academy for female boxers during my time,” she said.
However, as a boxing coach, she has earned accolades that no boxing coach from Nagaland has achieved so far.
To name a few, she is the first from Nagaland to represent as team coach of the Indian junior women boxing team at the International Boxing Championships in Serbia (2012) and the only Naga boxing coach to have attended more than 25 national boxing coaching camps as the national team coach (junior and youth women boxing team) during 2010-2017.
She also won the best state coach award twice, in 2012 and 2019.
Currently working in the Department of Youth Resources and Sports, the 36-year-old coach said that dedicated facilities for boxers were nonexistent during the initial phase of her boxing career.
She said that those days, they used to receive training barely a month before competitions, even as limited financial support posed significant challenges, especially while preparing for national events.
Back then, aspiring female boxers also did not have much option or facilities as women boxing was in a nascent stage in Nagaland, but that didn’t deter her from taking up the combat sport; she used to practice at Sports Authority of India complex in Kohima along with boys and senior men’s team as there was no separate complex for women.
Now, things have changed and there are separate academies for both boys and girls at the Indira Gandhi Sports Academy in Kohima, she said. Encouraging young sportspersons not to give up due to bad experiences, she said that she too encountered countless such incidents and was on the verge of giving up, thinking that she wouldn’t be able to make it.
One thing that kept her going was the thought of her parents who worked so hard to bring her thus far and believing in her.
“Coming from nowhere and starting from the lowest, and that too being a woman, if I can make a place for myself in a male-dominated sport, then definitely you can as you are in a generation where you have better facilities and better opportunities,” she said, when asked if she has any words for the youth.
Speaking from her experience, Tzudir said that things have not change much for women even today, especially in the field of boxing, with very limited women boxers getting enrolled in the academy.
She said the mindset of the society should change and girls should be encouraged to take up sports like martial arts, boxing, taekwondo and wrestling.
Boxers must be hardworking and disciplined, and also build their character in such a way that people will respect them, she said, adding that the sport cannot be learned without a coach.
Boxers need coach right from the grassroots level, she said, underscoring the need to conduct talent hunt and coaching camps in all the districts.
Further, she said that while the government should frame policies and promote sports, the community too should encourage children to take up sports and help build their career in the field.
To promote sports in the state, she suggested educational institutions implementing sports policy by introducing it as a subject with the help of government.
When asked about prospects of Naga women boxers winning medals in the near future, she stressed the need for providing platform to excel, saying that women sportspersons in Manipur are excelling because are giving equal opportunities as their male counterparts, if not more.
“We as society should change our mindset and start giving equal opportunities. Let women come out of the shelter and stop restricting them and limiting their potential,” she said.