The Sarita Regional Boxing Academy in Mayang is situated 20 km outside Imphal City
The Sarita Regional Boxing Academy in Mayang is situated 20 km outside Imphal City

Guwahati: Days after shielding two young Kuki trainees from a violent mob before safely guiding them back home, former world champion boxer Laishram Sarita Devi has once again emerged as an unsung hero in crisis-hit Manipur after she took six ‘mentally traumatised’ kids under her wing with a hope of turning them into world beaters one day.

Unable to scout trainees for a major part of the season due to the deadly violence in Manipur that has left hundreds homeless, Sarita’s watchful eyes fell on a few talented youngsters in a rather unexpected place.

Ever since the violence rocked the state on May 3, displacing hundreds and forcing them to settle at makeshift camps mostly in the valley area, Sarita has been a regular visitor to a few camps, carrying out relief work and on one such occasion, the veteran boxer came across a group of enthusiastic kids aged between 9 to 13 years.

The former national champion could sense a spark in the youngsters, and decided to bring them to the Sarita Regional Boxing Academy, situated some 20 km outside Imphal City, after seeking due permission from their parents.

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“My aim is to help them overcome the pain of losing their homes by introducing them to the sport, as boxing helps to burn out the stress,” said Sarita.

Elaborating further, the five-time Asian championship medallist said that the kids seemed to be mentally very disturbed ever since they witnessed their houses being torched during the violence, and she wanted to provide them with a healing touch by introducing them to the beautiful sport (boxing).

“We have included a few kids from the relief camps, and in the past month or so, they have shown good improvement. They lost their homes during the violence and were stuck at the relief camp. There is no certainty when they will be able to return to their villages. So we decided to bring them to our academy,” she said.

“There are six kids, three boys and as many girls, aged between 9-13 years. I keep visiting the relief camps and love engaging with the children. I usually connect with the younger ones and upon meeting them, they expressed their interest in boxing, and then we took the decision.”

“I am trying to help them to the best of my capacity, by providing free food, shelter, training and getting them proper boxing gear. All six kids are still mentally traumatised, and in deep shock. They are yet to overcome the scenes of their houses burning in front of them,” she further said.

Sarita feels getting them into sports will help the young guns deviate from the agony of losing their homes, and instead channel their energy to something fruitful by starting afresh in a new environment.

“I feel getting into sports could heal them and help them get over those nightmarish scenes. Their parents are still in the camps and are supportive of their decision to join sports. The kids are very much interested in the sport and eager to learn new techniques. They have already learnt the basics and, are making good progress in less than a month,” she said.

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“More than that, they are happy in the company of the other trainees. They are from different districts…I hope one day they will rise to become world beaters and bring laurels to the country.”

Before wrapping up the brief conversation, Sarita said she hopes to continue her hunt for more talents from the relief camps and help them shape their future.

Also Read | Not on my watch: How Boxer Sarita Devi saved her Kuki students from the mob

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