The North Eastern States of India are well known for their dedication towards sports. Over the years the Northeast sportspersons have made it big at national and international sports events. The youth of Northeast are heavily inclined towards sporting activities like Football, Tennis, Weight Lifting, Boxing, Archery etc. The Northeastern states of India are home to some of India’s most recognised international players but unfortunately in a country that is obsessed with a single sport, cricket, the achievements of those playing other games are often ignored. Nevertheless another laurel to the nation has brought by NT Lalbiakkima from Mizoram. Incredibly it is the first time that an Indian has beaten the current Olympic champion and also the biggest name beaten by an Indian boxer.
Mizoram’s NT Lalbiakkima had the bout of his career after he became the first Indian to beat a reigning Olympic gold medalist, that too on his maiden tournament for India. The 22 year old Mizo boxer created history as he beat world number 1 and Olympic gold medallist Hasanboy Dusmatov of Uzbekistan 4-1 in the quarter-final in light flyweight (49kg) to move into the semifinal at the Kazakhstan President’s Cup, an international boxing tournament.
Hailing from Saiha, a small village close to Aizawl in southern Mizoram, NT Lalbiakkima was ignored during the selection for the national boxing team earlier this year. A few months later, when he finally got a chance to play under the Indian colours, he did all the right things. Hailing from a humble background, his family’s financial situation has never been bright but his love for the game was equally strong.
While Pro fights are a popular recreational sport for the youngsters in Mizoram, Lalbiakkima was exposed to boxing for the very first time in one of the local Pro fights in 2009 and adapted immediately to the sport. He got selected at the Mizoram Regional Sports Authority Center in 2011. Lalbiakkima then moved to Navy Nagar, Mumbai after he impressed the Navy coaches when he won bronze in the 2015 senior nationals. Hard work and dedication were the only two things that Lalbiakkima had in his possession and winning a bronze in the 2015 Senior Nationals changed his life. His attacking play was something which impressed the Navy Coaches and they selected him up in 2015 to join the Navy. Since then Lalbiakkima lives and trains in Navy Nagar, Mumbai under the 2010 CWG Gold medallist, Suranjoy Singh, who is the Chief Coach in Navy. While Dusmatov was the reigning light flyweight (49kg) Olympic champion and a silver medalist at the 2017 World Championships, Lalbiakkima’s best performance prior to that contest had been a silver medal at the 2017 Senior Nationals in Vishakapatnam. “I was nervous before the bout as Dusmatov is the world number one. I knew he is the best boxer in the world. But I want to be the best too,” he told reporters.