She walks into the boxing ring like she owns it. With her sheer aggression, agility and hard punches, this 19-year-old made a mark in women’s boxing by winning gold in the 2013 Second Nations Cup International Sub-Junior Girls Boxing Tournament held in Serbia. Jamuna Bodo has had her fair share of struggles to make it to the top.
Belonging to the Bodo tribe, the 19-year-old international boxer hails from a small village called Belsiri in the Sonitpur district in Assam.
Her mother Nirmala Bodo works as a vegetable vendor there to make ends meet. After her husband died years ago, Nirmala took up the responsibility of raising her two daughters and son, all by herself. And her strength reflects in Jamuna, who left no stone unturned to win numerous medals for India in various international tournaments.
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Jamuna clinched the gold medal in the World Youth championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 2014, and won a bronze in the 57kg category while representing India at the Youth World Boxing Championships in Taipei in 2015.
Speaking to BBC, Jamuna talks about life after her father’s death and her inclination towards the martial art of Wushu.
“I was only 10 years old when my father died. Since then, my mother has brought us all up. In the village, some older boys used to play Wushu. And this really inspired me to take up the sport.”
While training for the martial art, she won a gold medal in a district level Wushu match. And soon after, with the help of her Wushu coaches, Jamuna started training in boxing.
“There was no special facility for training in the village. Therefore, Joseshmeek Nargari and Honok Bodo sir, who were my first Wushu coaches, gave me an opportunity in 2009 to train with the Sports Authority of India. From there, I started training in boxing,” she said.
She clinched her first gold in the 52kg category in the 1st Sub-Junior Women’s National Boxing Championship held in Erode, Tamil Nadu, in 2010. And continued the feat with another gold at the 2nd Sub-Junior Women’s National Boxing Championship held in 2011 in Coimbatore, becoming the champion.
Despite all the laurels won and fame attained, the situation back home remains unchanged. Her family continues to thrive in a makeshift shelter in front of Belsiri railway station, and her mother continues to sell vegetables, working hard every single day to beat poverty. Jamuna, despite all odds, has emerged victorious in every sense and continues to look up to her mother as her idol.
Jamuna often trains with the boys in the academy, with the only aim of defeating her opponent in the fight. “It does not matter whether my opponent is a boy when I am in the ring,” she said.
Now her eyes are set on qualifying for Olympics 2020 to be held in Tokyo. She regards Mary Kom as an inspiration. “Despite being the mother of three children, Mary Kom’s punch is very powerful even today, and there is speed of force in her game. If she can work so hard then why can’t I?” she told BBC.
She wants to make India proud by winning medals for her nation. We only hope that the nation can support and uphold the aspirations of this young boxer, who is an inspiration to many!
Feature image credit: BBC