Bhopal (Madhya Pradesh): Their sorrow oozed out as the boxers from Manipur began to describe how violence was devouring their state. Manipur's team is in Bhopal for the 6th Youth Women's National Boxing Championship in 2023. Normally, Manipur sends a large representation to boxing contests but this time seven pugilists are competing. When Free Press inquired, boxers said situation in Manipur was much worse than shown to the country. It was hard to even bring seven. “But we are here and we are here to win," they said.
They also said it was a big struggle to travel 2,529 km from riot-hit Manipur to Bhopal. Manipur team coach Sonu Ashok Tak said, "We travelled by road, by air, and then by train. It took us three days to reach Bhopal. But the hardest part was to reach Manipur airport as all roads were blocked and there were security personnel everywhere. We had to take longer route. And then our train from Kolkata to Bhopal was 11 hours late."
“No internet for 2 months”
Asian silver medallist Supriya said, "We have been surviving there without any internet for last two months. My father runs a department store in Manipur." Boxing team coach Sangeeta said, "The situation in Manipur is very bad. We are cutoff from the entire country as we have no means of communication there. For pre-registration for this tournament, we had to do it today because we couldn’t access it there.
Training with coach impossible
"We couldn’t train properly for months. A day without proper training takes a toll on the body of an athlete. Training with our coaches was impossible in such a situation. We trained ourselves at home and some of us also sneaked out to go to our coach’s place to train. What else can we do? We can’t lose our dreams to riots" they said.
Not staying at homes
In a choked voice, Sagar Chanu, a boxer from Meitei community, said, "Situation is very heartbreaking as my family is there. I live in a hostel but when I ask them how they are, they say they are fine. But I can feel that nothing is fine. They are afraid and can’t even stay at home. She added, “Violence is continuing and people are running here and there to save lives. We are in boxing ring in Bhopal but our mind is with family.”