While watching the controversial incident in the 2014 Asian Games, how many of us thought about he emotional turmoil inside Sarita Devi’s mind? How many of us take the pain to understand the effort put forth by Indian Athletes?
Shadow fighter- Sarita Devi and her extraordinary journey is one book that enlightens the readers about the unseen journey of a female boxer. We all know Sarita Devi after she refused to accept the bronze medal during the 2014 Asian Games and subsequent ban. It is sad that common citizens in India are not able to think beyond Cricket and football. No thought was spared about he boxers till Vijender Singh bagged bronze medal in the 2008 Olympics. As a female boxer, the only name we knew was of Mary Kom, that too only after she bagged her bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympics. It is not known to many that Sarita Devi and Mary Kom were friends and heroines of boxing. While Mary basked in the glory of her bronze medal, Sarita remained u known till 2014.
It’s shocking to see how she was a victim of favouritism, discrimination and poor decision-making again and again. She was denied the deserved chances not once but thrice. To make it this fat was not easy for her but for a soft hearted Sarita to attain whatever she did in a ferocious sport like boxing is commendable.
The book unveils the undercurrent of internal politicking and back biting prevalent in boxing and any sport form in general. We can see how boxing slowly became popular under the guidance and efforts of Ibomcha, Anoop Kumar, Chandralal and the likes. How they toiled for years to make this sport from acceptable without any support from the authorities. The names of K.C. Lekha and Jenny were brought to light even though mentioned briefly.
The injustices and indifference towards athletes were not solely for boxing. The repercussions of speaking out their mind and taking a stand were not good with athletes like Dhanraj Pillay, Deepika Pallikal etc. The experiences authoress procured as a journalist has come handy while writing the book. The folly of the political lobby and their lack of planning is exposed in the book. The shameful ban of IABF itself proves the fact.
What didn’t appear appealing to me was the unilateral accusations about Mary Kom. It is mentioned in the book that Sarita was proven to be psychologically weak in the tests and that Mary was the other way around, which helped her win the bouts. If she was psychologically strong and aggressive, it should be considered as her quality, not sheer luck. She too had to face bad decisions and put in a lot of hard work.Their personal equation could have been kept at bay in the book. If not for the over the top complaints about Mary making it big I would have given the book a five star rating. But yes, refusing to take the right stand for a fellow player who was a friend is appalling.
My Verdict : Amazing and well researched book, but slightly unilateral.
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