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FEATURE STORY March 15, 2021

Strength, In & Out of the Ring


Sabrina Dangol/World Bank Nepal

Hema Rai, Boxer

Hema Rai, 19, is a young woman with a sense of purpose as she strides into the ring. A boxer by profession, she has been in the sport for the past two years. Her father persuaded her to take up the sport right after high school. Skeptical at first, Hema today has fallen in love with the sport which has become an integral part of her, so much so that she spends all her free time in Boxmandu, a boxing studio in Kathmandu. 

In March of last year, just before the COVID-19 lockdown started, she won gold in the Bir Ganesh Man Singh Memorial National Boxing Tournament in the 64kg category and silver in two under-19 category matches organized by the Nepal Boxing Association. Ecstatic about her wins, she was not prepared for the online trolling she was subjected to about her skills as a boxer and her looks. It took a while and a lot of mental pressure, but she says it has made her stronger and sharpened her focus on getting better at what she does. She does not pay attention to such comments any more. 

In her most recent match on International Women’s Day, March 8, Hema won in the 64kg category. She believes boxing has changed her life and given her a sense of purpose and discipline - her training studio is her ‘happy place’.

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This story is one of 21 stories spotlighting women from Nepal who are breaking the mold through their stories of resilience, hope, and grit amid the COVID19 pandemic. Read all the stories here.