Dedication and sacrifice is the key to success for the silver medallist of CWG held in Glasgow, Laishram Sarita. The prestigious Arjuna Awardee who is also a mother of 17 months old feels proud to be born in Manipur and Sarita credits her achievement to her beloved husband, Thoiba Chongtham. In an interview with Ngangthoi Lourembam of Imphal Times, the World Champion, Sarita who is also serving as a DSP in Police department shared her journey of experience. Here are the excerpts of the interview.
IT News: How did you start playing boxing?
Sarita: During my childhood I used to play at paddy fields as I was born in a village and I never knew what is boxing. My dad used to work in Indian Oil Company posted at Imphal Airport. My dad was a sport enthusiast and when he comes back home from work he used to make us do rope jumping and other warming up exercises. I was 13 when I started playing Taekwondo. But I was very small then and didn’t feel like getting up early for the class hence left it after two months. Then my dad passed away in 1997 and I started again playing Taekwondo to fulfil my dad’s desire. One day my Kung fu coach told me about Manipuri women boxing team and introduced me to a coach named Ibomcha of Sport’s Authority of India (SAI.) I used to get fear of playing boxing but I joined it for my hand exercise for Kung fu. After started playing boxing I quite all the other games as I got drawn completely towards boxing.
IT News: How many titles have you achieved so far?
Sarita: Apart from the recent success at international level I bagged 5 times Asian Women Boxing Championship and also received the title ‘Asian best boxer.’ At national level I received the title of best boxer five times and 14 times National Women Boxing Championship. I have bagged World championship two times. And I also received the Arjuna Award in 2009.
IT News: How well did you practise for the Commonwealth game?
Sarita: I quit playing for two years after I couldn’t qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. Then I had a baby who is now one year and five months old. I found it difficult to start practising for the Commonwealth games after giving birth to a baby as boxing requires lot of hard work and energy. During my pregnancy I weighed 85 kg and I worked real hard to get it down to 60 kg. I got trained for four hours a day and a senior Coach named Lenin Meitei gave me guidance and support. There was time when I thought of quitting but it was my husband who encouraged and supported me at every steps. Then I got entry to the Commonwealth Games and achieved the Silver medal.
IT News: How difficult was the last bout you played in Commonwealth Games 2014?
Sarita: Earlier I have played in five different weight categories and won medals at international level. This was my second match where I played in 60 kg for which I have less experience. I won’t say the bout was difficult. I didn’t lose to my opponent because she (Shelley Watts of Australia) played well and has better technique but I was playing continuously in the last hour with taking pain killers for my injury. I would have easily beaten my opponent if I had energy.
IT News: Do you have any hobbies?
Sarita: Boxing is my hobby and I like to train young boxers. I have applied to North Eastern Council to build a boxing academy and if sanctioned I am planning to give well training to the young boxers with free of costs. I also gave training to some young boxers at home and three amongst them got selection to study in Pune.
Sarita: I am proud to be born in Manipur as the state has no discrimination against men and women. Most of the women of the state excel in sports activities. I also have a dream to play in Olympic game and win gold medal. That is the reason I came back to play boxing after my delivery. But it was not an easy task for a woman to start playing boxing after delivery at the same time it needs strong physical and mental condition. I had to leave my baby when I went for my practise and I felt bad but in order to achieve my dream I sacrificed my family. It is also possible for me to play boxing after my delivery due to the reason that I was born in Manipur plus my husband and family gave me full support.
IT News: What advice would you like to pass it to the younger sport’s players of the state?
Sarita: All the young sport’s players should practise with true mind and clear vision. Players need dedication towards their games and lot of sacrifices in term of holidays and other festivals. It’s been a long time for me to not attend Ningol Chakouba (One of the famous festivals of Manipur) and other festivals as I had to focus on my practise. Therefore all the young players require dedication, sacrifice and focus towards their games.
IT News: To whom do you like to credit your achievement?
Sarita: I had a very rough phase after I couldn’t qualify for the Olympic game 2012. It was my husband who supported me and encouraged me to play again for the next Olympic game. The whole team of police department and the people of Manipur supported me and prayed for my success. So I would like to credit my achievement to all of them.
IT News: What are your future activities?
Sarita: In the nearest activity Asian game is coming up. In November World Championship is there and in 2016 Olympic Game is there.
IT News: People of the state are agitating to implement ILP system. Any comment on it.
Sarita: As a citizen of the state I also fear that the indigenous people of the state might extinct some day as people from mainland have started occupying the state. I think implementation of ILP is necessary.
William Gurumayum, Sub-Editor of Imphal Times is a resident of Sagolband Salam Leikai. He has been with Imphal Times since beginning. A avid adventure lover, writes mostly travelogue.