When Jamuna Boro bagged the 54kg gold at the India Open here, it was a moment of reckoning for her mother Nirmala who sold vegetables to fuel her daughter’s boxing dreams.
Tears rolling down her eyes, Nirmala hugged her daughter who was flanked by her elder brother and sister, making it an emotional moment for the Boro family at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium on Friday.
“It was for the first time they saw me in the ring and winning the gold medal in front of them was really special. I will cherish this forever,” Jamuna, who beat Sandhyarani Devi 5-0 in the final bout, told PTI.
Jamuna’s feat was also duly noticed by the Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal who is all set to felicitate her at his office, Boxing Federation of India chief Ajay Singh said.
“He (Sonowal) has asked for a special meeting with her and her mother in his office. He would like to felicitate her separately. These are great stories for the state and for the sport of boxing,” Singh said.
“Hers is an incredible story. To come up from that background, and win medals at this stage is incredible. They are our true role models.”
The Boro family travelled all the way from Dhekiajuli, about 130 kilometres from here, to cheer for the 22-year-old who was up against her ‘nemesis’ Meena Kumari Maisnam, the World Cup gold medal winner in Cologne last month, in the semifinal.
The 2014 Asian Championships bronze medallist and three-time national champion, Meena, had beaten Jamuna four times previously, the most recent being in the Asian Championships trials earlier this year.
Jamuna was under tremendous pressure ahead of the semifinal bout and her mother had to calm her down.
“She told me ‘life never stops even if you loss or win. There’s nothing to be worried about. It’s a game after all’. It worked as a magic and I found myself without any pressure, for the first time against her. I think it was key to the win,” said Jamuna about the 5-0 semifinal win over the Strandja Cup gold medalist.
Jamuna may have fought it all alone in the ring but outside of it, her mother had an equal share of battle and hardships.
Having lost her father at an early age, it was Nirmala who raised Jamuna and her two elder siblings in a tin-roof hut in Belsiri.
“My mother spent days without food on many occasions but she always ensured that I never slept hungry. She would leave home very early to sell vegetables, leaving me with my sister. They have gone through a lot of hardships. Now it’s time to give it back,” Jamuna, who’s building a 3BHK house for them at Dhekiajuli, said.
After joining Assam Rifles last year, Jamuna also ensured that her mother stop selling vegetables.
“The financial condition has improved now. I’m happy that the bad days are over for her. She does not have to go selling for vegetables again,” Jamuna who won the Youth World Championships bronze in Taipei in 2015, said.
Exactly 10 years ago, a journey of struggle began for the mother and daughter duo when a 12-year-old Jamuna left her remote village in Belsiri and joined Sports Authority of India in Guwahati to pursue boxing.
Having lost her father very early, Jamuna initially struggled to cope with hostel life at SAI.
“Everyone’s father would come on every weekends and they would ask me me where’s my father. I would go speechless and cry sitting in a corner. During filling-up forms also they would ask for my father. Gradually I could overcome his absence.”
Her hardwork also started paying off as she won the successive Sub-Junior National titles in 2010-11.
Continuing her rapid rise, she also went on to win the Nations Cup International Sub-Junior Girls Boxing Tournament in Serbia in 2013 and her Youth World Championship feat saw her graduate to the national camp in New Delhi.
It then became natural that Jamuna was a known face in the second edition of the India Open along side Indian boxing icon Mary Kom and local favourite Shiva Thapa.
“They have achieved bigger success and Mary is my boxing idol. It’s a privilege to see myself along with them,” Jamuna said, giving credit to Mary for bolstering confidence in the semifinal bout against Meena Kumari.
“I keep training with her and she keeps telling me on how to improve my techniques against the southpaw (Meena Kumari). It really helped,” she signed off.