Dipika Pallikal had a chance to learn the hook punch from boxer Nikhat Zareen at the launch of Adidas’ ‘Watch Us Move’ campaign and the squash player did not waste the opportunity as she said she would try that on her cricketer husband Dinesh Karthik.
The campaign launched to celebrate womanhood and their freedom of movement, Zareen, Pallikal and Miss World 2017 Manushi Chillar came together for a panel discussion and a bonding session. This is when Zareen explained why she loved the hook punch move and Pallikal jumped on the opportunity.
“I box in 51 (kg) category and in that category, I’m the tallest girl. So for me, it’s an advantage. And so I show like I’m going to attack but I don’t attack and I allow my opponent to attack and when she attacks, then I throw my no counter punches. So that’s my favourite move. It’s called feint an attack,” Nikhat said.
Dipika joked, “I’ll practice it on my husband today.”
However, for both the sportspersons, the COVID-19 outbreak took a toll. Without any practice and spurring, they struggled with fitness. For Zareen, it was particularly an important year due to the Tokyo Olympics.
“I feel the first few months were okay. Mentally, we were like, Okay, this is going to get over but I still have to stay fit, and how am I going to fit? And it’s you know, I think we were in touch with our trainers way more than you’ve ever been in touch with them. But I think as an athlete, we go through this, I think we’re all you know, we were always shoved into situations where it’s odd and we have to come out of the top no matter what. And it’s being loaded physically. I think it’s taken a toll on athletes mentally, especially on the Olympic athletes,” Pallikal explained.
However, even before the COVID-19 pandemic, both athletes had to break the stereotypes. Zareen, a boxer, in particular, was told by her father that boxing was not for women. But the lack of encouragement motivated her.
“I can still feel my father’s voice echo in my head ‘Boxing is not for women, is what society thinks & that it’s a men’s sport’,” she said.
“These very words challenged me and I wanted to go out there prove that boxing doesn’t care whether you are a man or a woman. It’s the desire and aspiration that should matter. Boxing for me is more to do with the attitude and my sense of pride,” Zareen said.