From working in agricultural fields to fighting the world: Sarita Devi

A national champion, a former world champion in the lightweight class and aged 29, Laishram Sarita Devi is an Indian boxer from Manipur.


Sarita Devi was born in an agricultural family in the capital of the state, Imphal, and turned professional in 2000, being inspired by Muhammad Ali. Sixth of her parents’ eight children, she spent her childhood working with her parents in the agricultural fields.


Her big break came when she represented India at the Asian Boxing Championships in Bangkok in 2001 and won a silver medal in her weight class. After this, there was no looking back for the boxer. In the coming years, she won medals in various tournaments, including a gold medal at the 2006 World Championships in India and a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.


[Picture Courtesy: Rappler]

After achieving such success, her career hit a road block this year at the Asian Games in Incheon. At the games, Sarita Devi had reached semi-finals with the impeccable score of 3-0 in both rounds. Fighting against South Korea’s Park Ji-Na on September 30th, Sarita Devi was awarded a bronze medal that she refused to accept.


This controversial incident was covered by media all over the world. The 0-3 verdict that was given after the game was found unfair by many, including the boxer. She had knocked out Park multiple times during the fight and broke down at the awards ceremony. She later accepted the bronze but due to her protest and the consequential protest lodged by the Indian team against the decision, she was suspended by AIBA.


After her suspension was finalized, she told PTI, “I am disappointed with how things have gone but I have written to Boxing India, which will forward the contents to AIBA. I cannot reveal the contents of the letter but I am hopeful that things will be sorted.”