In 2014, Mumbai’s Madhavi Gonbare’s boxing career started when she was in the second year of completing her BMS from Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala, Ghatkopar.
The 21-year-old’s talent was noticed during a self-defence workshop organised by her college, which helped her participate in a boxing competition in Kandivli. She won bronze there.
She then went on to participate in a district-level championship, which won her a gold medal. On seeing her achievements, her college sent her for a state-level match in Ahmednagar, where she came second.
This followed a national-level kickboxing championship, organised by the World Association of Kickboxing Organisations, in Andhra Pradesh. Madhavi won bronze for this.
“Each success made me feel powerful. Last year, I participated in a few Mumbai University matches, which I lost. But, I didn’t give up and kept practising. Then, one day I got a call from my sir (who’d trained her during college) and he asked me to participate in chess-boxing matches. I took part in matches held in Dahisar and won gold,” Madhavi told Mid-Day.
Chess-boxing combines the board game and the physical sport, where competitors fight in alternating rounds of both.
However, soon after college got over, Madhavi’s progress took a hit. Her father had died in a road accident when she was in class 10, and her mother didn’t earn much.
In 2017, she got the chance to participate in a Chess-boxing Amateur World Championship in Kolkata, but the participation fee was ₹30,000. Her college offered to contribute ₹5,000, but she couldn’t afford to pay the rest.
Madhavi then visited politicians and other officials but could manage only a little amount.
It was a phone call from the Mumbai cops that came as true help. Senior inspector, Avinash Dharmadhikari, called the family and asked them to come to the police station.
“I don’t know where he got my number from. He called me to the police station with Madhavi. My first reaction was fear – was this was going to add to our problems? But, he greeted us warmly, offered us refreshments and spoke to Madhavi about her game,” Madhavi’s mother Sharmila told Mid-Day.
Narrating his story of how he found out about Madhavi, Avinash told the publication, “A friend told me about the girl and her family, so I called them to the police station. I was impressed that at 21 she had won three gold, one silver and three bronze medals. I organised a programme and invited a few social activists, who I introduced Madhavi to and appealed to them to help her financially.”
And this is how Madhavi received financial support and as well as training for the championship.
She ended up winning a gold medal!
As for the future, she is all set for winning medals for India in the future, but at the moment she wants to concentrate on her studies as well.