Laishram Sarita Devi: A Warrior

Blog by Raj Kishan..

There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest. This is what our champion, Laisharam Sarita Devi teach us, we should have a backbone and stand our ground for what we believe in and against all unfairness.

Laisharam Sarita Devi! She is a mother, a champion boxer and guiding light to every woman. She is a warrior!

Sarita Devi, 36, is a champion Indian boxer from Manipur competing in the lightweight class. She was born in an agricultural family. Being sixth of eight siblings it wasn’t easy for her and her family. She completed her high school in Waithou Mapal high school till eighth and then went to Bal Baidya Mandir to complete her matriculation. She then attended open school for her +2 so that she could keep up with her busy boxing schedule. Being in an agricultural family, she used to help her parents collect firewood in her free time. Okay, so, now we know the secret behind her remarkable stamina.

She was highly inspired by Muhammad Ali, and he is the reason she started boxing. She turned professional in boxing in 2000. The following year she won silver in lightweight class at the Asian Championships 2001, Bangkok. Later, she won 4 gold Medals at Asian Championships; 2003 Hisar, 2005 Kaohsiung City, 2008 Guwahati, 2010 Atlanta. She has performed well at World Championships; 2005 Podolsk she won Bronze medal and then came the big one, she won gold medal at the 2006 World Championship. She won bronze medal at Asian Games Incheon, 2014 and silver at Commonwealth Games Glasgow, 2014. A long list of medals!

Sarita Devi was awarded with Arjuna Award for her achievements in 2009.

But there is a catch; the champion has another tale to tell. At the 2014 Asian Games, held in Incheon, South Korea, she was a victim of injustice. It was Sarita Devi’s semi final bout; her opponent was Jina Park (Hosting nation’s boxer). The first round can be said as somewhat neck to neck but the rest of the rounds her completely one sided. Sarita threw ferocious punches and her footwork was fantastic. Park simply could not compete and was off balance many times. Everybody cheered for Sarita. Sarita thought she won, coaching staff thought she won and fans thought she won. But all hell broke loose when the referee lifted park’s hand as the winner. It was totally unfair! The Indian Express said, “Sarita appears to be a clear winner in the bout… dominating the proceedings with such ferocity that Park barely managed to stand the assault. But much to the shock of Indian contingent and the spectators, the judges awarded the bout to Park.” This result and the whole fiasco tarnished the image of technical officials of AIBA besides raising a massive question on how things are carried out. Sarita was robbed off. Being the warrior she is, she protested against the incident and refused to take the Bronze medal and handed it to Park.

Sarita Devi was handed a one year ban by International Boxing Association (AIBA) for refusal of the medal. It was said that her refusal to accept her bronze medal on podium went against sportsmanship but no one at homes took it that way. Every Indian appreciated her actions.

She returned to boxing in 2016 and still puts her heart into her sport; she trains well, eats well, be with her family and tend to her child. She is a complete warrior. Things are falling in place for her once again. She says, “When you do something by heart you always achieve your dream. I follow this principle.”- A mantra which can be followed by us too. She never backed down from any challenge, even fought against injustice. We salute you ma’am!