NEW DELHI: Adversity sometimes brings out the best in a person. No one knows it better than young Indian pugilist Jamuna Boro who grew up in extreme poverty but never allowed it to become a hurdle in her quest for glory on the global stage of women’s boxing.
Jamuna has already surpassed all expectations by assuring herself a medal in her maiden appearance at the ongoing World Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia. The 23-year-old Assamese will fight for a place in the 54kg final at the Worlds on Saturday. She will be up against top seed and former Asian Games bronze medallist, Huang Hsiao-Wen of Chinese Taipei, but is unperturbed by the stature of her rival.
“The fighting spirit in me has kept me going throughout my boxing career. I have faced enough testing times in my life and I am taking tomorrow’s bout as yet another challenge for me. I am confident of my victory. I’ll give it my all,” said Jamuna, beaming with confidence.
Jamuna’s life has been full of struggles. From travelling an hour every day from her village Belsiri in Sonitpur district to Udalguri district to play the martial art game of wushu – which she played till the age of 12 – to helping her mother Nirmala sell vegetables by the roadside, Jamuna went through the grind without any complaint.
Boxing happened by chance to Jamuna who grew up in a one-room house. She lost her father Parshu when she was just six years old and her mother raised her daughters and sons by selling vegetables. Jamuna was selected by the SAI regional sub-centre in Guwahati for boxing. It showed her the way to wriggle out of poverty and provide her mother a better life.
“It was tough. I was never told about how my father died. Ever since I started remembering things, all I knew was my mother would leave the house at six in the morning and come back only by eight in the evening. There were days when I didn’t get to talk to her for days as I went to sleep early. Despite that, she spent a certain portion of whatever she earned on my wushu training and later on boxing. Sometimes, she would be left with no money. Only after I was selected for the SAI regional sub-centre in Guwahati for boxing that things became comparatively better. She still used to send me some pocket money from her small savings,” said Jamuna, who boxed against boys at the SAI centre to excel in the game.
The next three years, from 2010-2012, Jamuna clinched gold medals in the 52kg category at the sub-junior women’s nationals. She rose up the ranks after winning international medals between 2013 to 2015 in Serbia, Bulgaria and Chinese Taipei.
“However, I suffered a slump in my form and lost focus when my SAI centre coach, Abhishek Malviya, left for Mary Kom‘s academy in Manipur. I also got busy with my 10th board exams.
From 2016 to mid-2018, I just wasn’t able to concentrate and started losing my bouts to my nemesis, Meena Kumari. When I won at the Nationals in 2018, it gave me a huge confidence.
“I defeated Meena in the semis of the India Open in Guwahati this year and later won gold at the Indonesia President’s Cup. Since then, I have not looked back,” she said and added: “My medals, prize money, everything is for my mother. I can’t see her struggle anymore.”