Turkish Boxer Survives Earthquake, Enters World Championships
Turkish Boxer Rabia Topuz puts the horror of the Earthquake behind her that killed nearly 50,000 people, travels to Delhi, with a little help from a Good Samaritan, and boxes at the World Championships.
2023 will always be remembered as the annus horribilis of years in over a century by the Turks. While the nation lifts itself after a devastating earthquake and a series of aftershocks, it has left a scar on many. Rabia Topuz is one such. The 22-year old has been honing her boxing skills for 6 years and had qualified for the World Boxing Championships in Delhi for the first time. She was 5 weeks from boarding the flight to India, when on 6th February, an Earthquake measuring 7.8 on ritcher scale razed her home in Malatya in the Eastern Anatolian region of Turkey.
"At that moment we started to think about how we can escape, how we can save our lives. We ran out in the bitter cold even without shoes," recalls Rabia.
5 members of her family were left homeless in bitter cold and chilly winds. Even though they survived staying in the family car for 10 days, it was life in hell. The family continues to live in a tent in Malatya. Her father, a trader has lost his business and all his means. They rely on help from the authorities 10 days after living in the car, Rabia joined the national camp.
"Before joining the national camp, life was very bad, the houses were destroyed, and everyone was staying outside in tents. The weather was cold and it was raining," says the 50 Kg flyweight boxer.
Getting to the national camp was not easy. She was sponsored and facilitated by a Good Samaritan who was helping the Earthquake hit families.
Rabia is grateful for her escape
"Since it was an earthquake zone, lots of brothers had come to help us. We explained our situation. One of them agreed to help me get to the camp and that was the biggest help."
Though her biggest bout was getting to Delhi, with barely 10 days of practice. However, Topuz lost in the first round on the opening day of the competition.
"I won't give any excuses, but it was difficult for me to adjust. It was just not my day".
Despite the trauma of the quake and her loss in New Delhi, Topuz says she hasn't lost motivation. Her dream is to beat Nikhat Zareen someday, as she boxes in the same weight category as the Nizambad boxer.
For the 11-member Turkish team, it has not been an easy ride to New Delhi, Rabia's was particularly difficult.
The story of the 22-year old is one of spirited fight, grit and determination. And she will need loads of them as she prepares to go back home, rebuild her life, while also getting in top shape for the Paris Olympics next year.