Back in 2012, Balkrishna Shetty lost out on the Gold Medal for India by a whisker when he suffered a defeat in the finals of his last amateur International tournament and had to settle for Silver. Despite the defeat, it was a huge achievement for an Indian fighter to make such a mark at that point.
While most of the people out there would have settled for it, Balkrishna had other plans.
“I couldn’t sleep whole night, and I promised myself that i will create a fighter who will not only fight well but will also win Gold for the country. It took us 8 years to create that moment. And when it happened i just had tears in eyes,” he noted on his Facebook page.
The moment came thanks to Kavya Kirodian. The teenager from Mumbai ascended to the top of the Asian Junior Muay-Thai scene at the 2019 IFMA Asian Muay-Thai Championship and that too in style.
Her first major win in the tournament came in the semi-finals against hometown favourite Noura Omar via a decision which proved to be a historic moment for the Indian Muay-Thai scene. The finals proved to be equally intriguing when Kavya went up against the odds and outclassed her opponent from Iran and clinch a gold medal for India at the Asian Stage.
It didn’t end there. A multiple-time Gold medal winner in the national scene, Kavya also had icing on the cake when she was adjudged the Youth Rising Star Female of the year at the Asian Championship. And with age and support from her coaches and family on her side, Kavya has no plans to stop.
After her Gold Medal win, we managed to catch up with the young star to talk about how she started the sport, her fights at the Asian Championship, future goals and much more. You can read the complete story from Kavya below.
How she started Muay-Thai
Kavya Kirodian: I started Muay Thai when I was in 8th grade. Before that, I was barely an athletic person, my mother had put me in for different co-curricular activities like badminton, dancing, art and although I was good at them it never stuck. Once I was reading this book Divergent and I could really relate with the protagonist and that gave me a little push towards learning martial arts and coincidentally my mother knew Bala Sir. At first the main objective was just punching a bag but then Muay Thai was that one sport that actually stuck.
The crucial role that her parents play
Kavya Kirodian: My parents have encouraged me from day one because they have always believed that I can do it and they have never stopped me from going to any competitions. They are the main reason why I can do this in the first place. My grandmother, however, was not very happy seeing me come home at 10-10:30 but we usually just laughed it off but at the end of the day, I know that she is very proud of me. The rest of my family and my friends have also been super supportive and I'm so grateful to each one of them.
Balancing studies and sport and how Muay-Thai changed her
Kavya Kirodian: Before starting training I was not the most athletic person, in fact I was very lazy but once I started this I had a constant motivation to get out of my bed and do something productive and refreshing. Moreover, training for different competitions has made me realize that I can deal with stress and I'm someone who won’t quit like when I was training for the Asian Championship I had my college exams and my college fest but I could deal with it and it gives me the confidence that i can deal with whatever life brings my way. And obviously it has surely helped my concentration and confidence a lot.
Being nervous in the Semi-Finals of the Asian Muay-Thai Championship
Kavya Kirodian: Asian Championship is obviously one of the biggest events I've played at and it was indeed memorable. The first fight that I played was against UAE and it being their home ground was a big deal to them as well as me which made me nervous but being nervous is a part if the game.
My opponent was a little taller than me but I was determined that I have to win and that’s what I did. It wasn't my best fight and I realized that so I made it a point that the next fight that I play had to be better than this one.
The Asian Championship Final and advice from Balkrishna Shetty
Kavya Kirodian: It was against Iran and Iran had a very strong team and they had a large crowd to cheer them up too. To be honest I did not have a good feeling in my mind, it was a thought that I had already lost but I pushed those negative thoughts out of my mind because our coach Balakrishna Shetty always said that if we win the fight mentally we've already won half the game. He reminded us the mental fight was as important as the physical one and I made myself realise that losing is not and option and I have to put in my 100% for everyone who was counting on me.
The first round of the match was not the best and I got beaten up pretty badly and that scared me a little but more than that it made me angry and determined to win. So with all my aggression, I played the second round and I won.
The most Memorable moment cannot be put into words
Kavya Kirodian: The most memorable moment has to be when I got a TKO [at the Asian Championship] where the referee stopped the fight. I was beyond happy and that is something that cannot put in words, it was hard to digest at that time and believe it is still difficult. That is one moment that I'll never be able to forget.
The goal is to become a World Champion
Kavya Kirodian: The goal is to become a world champion and since we have the best training facility and the best coach to train with we are already so close to our goal. After the Asian Championship, we didn't take a break but went back to train the next day. It's the motivation of our coach that keeps pushing us forward every day.
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