This tribal teen has golden fists

Selay Soy of Mango emerges Khelo India's best boxer, returns home with medal

By Jayesh Thaker in Jamshedpur
  • Published 17.02.18
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WINNING STREAK: Selay Soy with his medal and trophy in Jamshedpur earlier this week. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Jamshedpur: Jharkhand may have finished 17th at the inaugural Khelo India School Games, but 16-year-old steel city pugilist Selay Soy did pull some solid punches to return home with not just a gold medal, but also the Best Boxer of the Tournament trophy.

Selay claimed the yellow metal in the 46kg weight category by flooring his Maharashtra opponent Anil Kumar. The Tata Boxing Centre trainee is known for his quick reflexes, strength and agility - the key qualities in a power sport such as boxing.

Kartik Mahto, who was the state boxing coach at the Games and has mentored Selay during his formative years, said the teenager had great potential. "Selay has trained under me and I am aware of what he can achieve. He is going to win more glory for Jharkhand in days to come," said Mahto, also a former coach of the state-run day boxing cradle at JRD Tata Sports Complex.

But, the young lad is not among those to rest assured on accomplishments. For him, it means more hard work to live up to expectations of his mentors and well-wishers. " Khush toh hu lekin abhi aur mehnat karni hai," he told this newspaper after a strenuous bout of training at the centre on Wednesday evening.

A Class X student of SBM High School in Mango, Selay rarely gets the nutrition he needs. Father Durga Charan Soy is a daily wage earner who cannot afford a diet of fish, mutton or eggs for his son. The teenager mostly lives on dal- bhaat or roti-subzi.

"I know nutrition is the key to my strength. But I am helpless in that regard," the unassuming youngster said.

The Union sports ministry organised Khelo India School Games for Under-17 schoolchildren was held in New Delhi from January 31 to February 8.

Haryana topped the charts with 102 medals (38 gold, 26 silver and 38 bronze). Jharkhand finished with nine medals (two gold, four silver and three bronze). The state had sent a 56-member team that took part in different events, including boxing, archery and athletics.

Our boy with golden fists has struck gold many a times in the past too - in the All-India Inter-steel Plants Boxing Championship in Jamshedpur in 2011 and 2012; and the state championship in Noamundi, West Singhbhum, in 2012.

Selay also won gold at the National School Games held in Bhatinda and Anandpur Sahib, Punjab, in 2013 and 2014, respectively. He won the state championship in Jamshedpur in 2015 and bagged gold at the Sub-Junior National Championship in Guwahati in October last year.

Selay had had a vital training stint at an elite boxing cradle run by Sports Authority of India in Hissar, Haryana, in 2016. He, however, returned to the city to rejoin the Tata cradle a year later.