At the fag end of her long illustrious career, Sarita Devi is looking at the future. She may not be nurturing too many personal ambitions, but the former World championship and Asian medallist is keen to see young kids training at her academy achieve excellence in the sport.
Away from the limelight, Sarita has been running an academy at Myang Imphal, a village 24km away from Imphal, for the last four years. “Altogether 70 boxers, who are junior and sub-junior kids from nearby villages, are training there. I have got so many medals for the country but could not get an Olympics medal. Now I want to produce Olympians from my academy,” Sarita, who graced the National women's championship here as a guest, told Sportstar .
“My whole focus is on my academy. I have purchased land for this but the work is yet to start. I have hired an indoor hall and set up two rings there. I have hired three coaches and pay them from my own salary.
“Everybody runs away from village to cities after becoming successful but I chose the other way round. I live in the village near my academy and do duty (with the Manipur CID) in Imphal.”
Sarita, who is known for standing up for her self-esteem, is reluctant to ask for help. “I don't like to seek help from anyone. When we die, we do not take anything with us. So whatever I have, I use it. If someone likes my work and sincerity and comes forward for help, then it is okay.
“Recently OGQ visited my academy and liked it. It has supported six boxers. I don't take a penny from anyone and spend everything from my own pocket. Whatever I am today, it is because of boxing and my life is dedicated to boxing. Even if none of the boxers make it big, at least they can utilise their energy in the right direction by staying away from drugs and other evils.”
Sarita, who protested her semifinal loss in the 2014 Asian Games and was handed a one-year ban, has turned wiser and does not want to remember the forgettable episode. “Whatever happened was not good. I don't want to look back. I wish no athlete faces the experience and trauma I went through.”
The 31-year-old seasoned boxer is still active, sparring with her trainees and keeping fit. However, she is non-committal on her career ahead. “I will keep boxing and see which events are coming up next year. Depending on my fitness, I will see whether I can compete in the Asian Games and Commonwealth Games in 2018,” said Sarita.