Like mother, like daughter.
Seated in her boxer mom’s lap, a toddler clamours “maro, maro” as feisty bouts get underway in the ring in front of her. As cameras flash, she smiles and quickly turns towards her mother, packing tender punches with both fists.
Meet little Sonakhshi — all of one and wonderful — and a reason why former world champ Aruna Mishra is back for a fight even while mulling early retirement.
Jharkhand’s noted pugilist and Jamshedpur resident Mishra needs little introduction given her reputation in the national and international circuits for almost a decade now. But, the 34-year-old mother was on a sabbatical, just teaching budding boxers in her hometown, ever since she was pregnant with her second daughter last year.
If she is in Ranchi today for the ongoing 62nd All India Police Wrestling Cluster Championship at Jaipal Singh Munda Mega Sports Complex, it is because she wants to gift her younger daughter a medal before her retreat from the ring.
“My daughters need me. Besides, my right shoulder has been troubling me for quite sometime now. Abhi final decide nahi ki, but soch rahi hoon iss baare mein. Iss event ke baad decide karungi ki aage khelna hai ki nahi (Nothing is final yet, but yes I’m considering taking my gloves off. I will decide after this event),” Mishra, who is employed with Jharkhand Police, told The Telegraph on Tuesday.
The pugilist resumed practice only two months ago at the behest of her seniors in the force. A member of the 45-strong home team, she is most certainly a medal hopeful.
“DG saab and other senior officers personally requested me to return to the ring. So, despite my injury, I resumed practice. Now, it wouldn’t look good that my bosses keep making requests and I keep turning them down,” Mishra, who runs the Birsa Boxing Centre in Jamshedpur for young talents, said.
The boxer mom will play her first bout in the second half of Wednesday. “My opponent is yet to be announced. I am not expecting anyone easy. But then, when you know you don’t have much to lose, you perform well. I will play my natural game,” she said and hooked her iron fist in jest.
While elder daughter Meenakshi (5) is at home in Jamshedpur, Sonakshi (1) is accompanying her fighter mummy for the first time. “Her birthday was last month. I would love to gift her my victory tomorrow,” Mishra said.
As the interaction progresses, the child gets excited over proceedings in the ring and tries to draw her mother’s attention. “Oh, ma, ma,” she says, pointing towards the fight.
“She already understands the game. Even at home, my gloves are her favourite toys. She tries to put them on and waves her fists in front of the mirror. When she sees me or her maasi (aunt) practise, she chortles and claps,” the proud mother said.
Will her daughters take up boxing in the future?
“That will be a dream, but no hard and fast rules for my darlings. One of the two, I think, will certainly take up boxing. It is in her genes you see,” she gives Sonakshi a tight hug and signs off.