It was a relatively lazy afternoon for the Sarita Devi family in Imphal on Friday. A boxer's training schedule can be quite killing - run and skip for endurance and footwork, weights to garner power and hours before the punching bag. For a change, Sarita wasn't breaking sweat like every other day till last week. Asia's, perhaps the world's, most controversial woman boxer is slowly reconciling to the fact that she is going to miss the world championship for the first time in her career. (Sarita Devi Says Sorry to World Body, Boxing India Appeals Against Ban)
Playing with little Tomthil is slowly helping Sarita overcome the weeks of frustration after she lost a controversial Asian Games semifinal bout against South Korea's Ji Na Park at Incheon on September 30. Tomthil, Sarita's 20-month-old son, is now the apple of her eyes. The fists of fury, capable of sending a furious flurry of bloody straights and hooks, have now transformed into soft touches, the caring strokes of a young mother. (Also read: When Sarita refused to wear bronze)
"Sarita will miss the world championship for the first time in her life. It's a big setback for her but she will take it in her stride," said Sarita's husband, Thoiba Singh in a telephonic chat from Imphal. The November 13-25 event in Jeju City, South Korea, will be the eighth women's world championship after the inaugural championship organized by the Amateur International Boxing Association in 2001. (Asian Games: Calls for Rule Change After Boxing Storm)
The conversation was interrupted by Tomthil's incessant gurgling and giggling. "He wants to play with the phone...he is so happy to see us home," said Thoiba, who says he and Sarita beat a hasty retreat within 24 hours of reporting for the national camp at the Indira Gandhi Stadium in New Delhi on October 22. (Sarita Devi Apologised, Her Issue Will be Solved Soon: N Ramachandran Tells NDTV)
"We were told to go back. The media was hounding us and the federation officials advised that she should avoid the Press. Since an appeal was already lodged with the AIBA, it was better to come back to Imphal. It was disappointing to leave the camp, but we had no choice," said Thoiba. (Sarita Devi Ban: Suspending Chef-de-Mission Was Insult to India, Says IOA Secretary)
Sarita is surely paying for a few minutes of emotional frenzy that stunned the world. Her petulant display of refusing an Asian Games medal angered the organisers and the AIBA. "We realize the mistake and will have to accept the punishment. We can't fault the federation. Hopefully, AIBA will revoke the ban," said Thoiba, adding Sarita was in no mental frame to go to Korea. (Also read: Don't regret Asian Games protest, had thought of quitting, says Sarita)
At Jeju City, India will be without Sarita (60kg), Mary Kom (51 kg) and Pooja Rani (75 kg). Mary Kom is nursing an injury while Pooja has skipped training. They will be replaced by Pinki Jangra (51kg), Priyanka Choudhary (60kg) and Monica Saun (75kg), all champions at the nationals in Raipur. It's disappointing to miss the world championship because Sarita was a gold medal prospect. Plus, we wanted a rematch with Ji Na Park," said Thoiba.
In Sarita's absence, Northern Ireland's Katie Taylor will be a hot favourite. She has four world medals and Sarita is sad that she will not be able to fight Taylor. "This would have been our first meeting, but that won't happen now," said Sarita's husband.
For now, the AIBA suspension will force Sarita to take a break from rigorous training. The 29-year-old is expecting good news during the world championship in Korea. "We hope they will revoke the suspension," says Thoiba, adding: "Sarita is not the one to give up. She hates to lose."
Hurt, anger, frustration and finally some quality family time. It can't get better than this to recharge your mind and body. For Sarita and Thoiba, Tomthil has been the greatest leveller.