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Manipur In Incheon Asian Games: The Two Legendary Moms

Ngamtinlun Touthang *

Mary Kom with the twins Laishram Sarita with her son
Mary Kom with the twins and Laishram Sarita with her son



The ongoing Incheon Asian Games once gain proved that Manipur is the backbone of Indian sports. The role of Manipuri sportpersons in almost all the big international sports events in the recent past is enough testimony to support this stand. From football to Hockey, Boxing, Archery, Judo, Weightlifting, etc. Manipuris are always there for this great nation.

Once again, the legendary MC Mary Kom, mother of three, has proved that she is not to be taken lightly by her opponent by becoming the first Indian Woman boxer to win a gold medal in the Asian games. We are proud of the achievement of our Kuki Woman. However, all is not well in South Korea this time. Though all the athletes from this tiny state of India's Northeast deserve our heartfelt appreciation, the news about L. Sarita Devi, mother of a baby boy, is very much disturbing. No one ever expected that such incident will actually occurred in such a grand event.

Everyone, except the judges, knew that Our Meitei Chanu was the better and stronger boxer in the semi-final bout. She was expected to win by 3-0 margin. But, unfortunately, the result was just the opposite. Again, it is heartening to learnt that losing the semi-final match was not the end of the story. She stunned all the officials and spectators by refusing the bronze medal during the medal distribution ceremony which is now in the custody of the organisers. This shows her inner urge to teach a lesson to all the stakeholders.

She was so confident of winning the bout though the so called judges decide otherswise. It is also unfortunate that the other Laishram, Devendro of Manipur, also lost his quarter-final bout in a similar case. Though the case of the younger Laishram did not create any dramatic scene, he is also widely considered as victim of judges who seems to favour the local favourites at their own whim.

These were not the only cases at Incheon. There is also the Mongolian team who had threatened to withdraw all their Boxing contingents. As in the case of the two Laishram from Manipur, the Mongolian team were not happy with the judges for refusing a winning tag to their bantamweight boxer Tugstsogt Nyambayar who fought valliantly against a local favourite.

Both the cases involving the Manipuris and the Mongolians are similar as far as the event and issue is concerned, but the fundamental difference lies in that: the whole country, especially the Boxing fraternity of Mongolia firmly stood behind the athlete and even staged a sit-in; but here, Boxing India and IOA even refused to support the older Laishram. She was insulted after being ashamed. It was only after three Union Ministers intervened that the IOA seems to realised its mistake. In fact there was none to support or console her when she needed most.

All this situation once again compelled us to think whether Northeast is a part of this great nation. Many people came out to support Sarita later on; but there was none at the crucial moment. How she collected a sum of USD 500 to lodge a complain was a clear indication that she was not backed by the Indian officials there.

During the past couple of decades, sports had changed the idea of Northeast in the minds of mainland people. The so called B-Town even started coming out in public at least through social media to support sportspersons from our state. The Biopic on Mary Kom was a great turning point. But the hard-earned little emotional integration by virtue of Manipur being a sports state has been once again shattered by the sad incident at South Korea.

Now, the issue at hand is: past is past. We can't correct the past mistake. But we can plan for better future. Effigies of the judges were burnt, social networking sites are filled with posts, tweets or comments in support of Sarita. Even the centre and state governments have declared that they will do the needful. All these are worth appreciating. Indeed they ought to take up such measures so that the same incident doesn't recur.

Above all, what is more important is the future of the athlete itself. Because, her future is highly at stake after the AIBA supervisor David B Francis indicated that Sarita could face a long-term ban. Since this is the later age of her (Sarita's) career, utmost care must be taken to avoid such long-term ban. What would be her future if she faced a banned till Rio 2016?

Therefore, the fight for justice must continue till the end; but her career must also be taken care-off by all the stakeholders. We can't take another risk to spoil her chance of winning an Olympic medal. As for me, I congratulated our Tak-Chanu for winning the gold medal, and stood behind the Meitei Chanu for justice.


* Ngamtinlun Touthang wrote this article for Hueiyen Lanpao
This article was posted on October 05, 2014.


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