Standing with Sarita Devi: We're not victims but sore losers

By Vivek Bhardwaj

Most of us may not have watched enough boxing to understand its nuances. Some of us may not even know the difference between an upper cut and a left hook.

I am also willing to bet that even die-hard boxing fans will not be able to explain how a bout is scored and how the winner is decided.

So, it is indeed touching to note that we all sprung to Sarita Devi’s defence and decided she was denied a deserved victory by the judges at Asian Games.

 Standing with Sarita Devi: Were not victims but sore losers

The bronze medal Sarita Devi left behind on the podium at the Asian Games. Reuters

We have empathized with her loss and stood solidly behind her decision to not accept her bronze medal and instead humiliate her victorious Korean rival in public, at the podium.
Going by the reaction, we must really be a boxing nation, a country full of experts.

Frankly answer this: how many of us actually watched Sarita’s semi-final fight against Jina Park?

Those who had must surely have noticed what happened at the end. When the final —there are four — round was over, Sarita raised her fist as a gesture of belief she had won. A few minutes later, as the referee called out the two pugilists to the centre of the ring, raised Jina’s hand to declare her the winner, Sarita looked at her coach in her corner and again gestured with her hand, as if to ask: what, how did this happen?

Fair enough.

But what was Jina’s response. When the fight was over, she too pumped the air with her fist and appeared confident of a victory. And when the referee declared her the winner, her pupils didn’t dilate with disbelief. She knew she deserved to win.

This quick rewind is to make just one point: it was a close fight and anybody could have won it. Sarita was very good; but Jina was better.

We can of course be swayed by the commentator who kept repeating that the Indian pugilist had landed some solid blows to the face of her opponent. But if you saw the replays, it was clear Jina wasn’t sitting idle. She matched Sarita blow for blow.

This is not to say that Sarita had no reason to be disappointed. In a close fight, both the opponents have an equal chance. But there is always just one winner. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the Indian.

To say that there was conspiracy against the Indian is deplorable. To argue that the bout was fixed is hilarious when you consider the fact that Jina didn’t win the gold. Would the fixers have taken so much trouble only for a silver?

Yes, Sarita had every right to file a protest. It is unfortunate that the Indian administrators did not help her question the verdict. But this doesn’t absolve Sarita of her guilt.

To not accept the medal at the podium is shameful. And then to put it around the winner, whose only fault was that she defeated her after a tough fight, is deplorable. No, dear Sarita, what you did was not right.

Of course we Indians can fly in rage. It is our habit to behave like wronged victims of international conspiracies. (The judges at the bout were from different neutral countries, incidentally, and a fixer would have required extra ordinary skills and power to influence them). We have this habit of believing that we are always right and others are out to get us. We are poor losers.

For those who do not understand boxing, let us revisit an incident from cricket to put this in perspective.

In the 1980-81 series, Sunil Gavaskar was so incensed with an Australian umpire’s decision to give him out that he threatened to pull his team out of a Test match Down Under.

And a few years later, Arjuna Ranatunga did the same when M Muralitharan was called for illegal action.

Was Gavaskar right? Wasn’t Murali’s action suspect?

Just because somebody is protesting doesn’t automatically make him the victim.
Sarita could have come home a winner by bearing her loss with dignity. But she ended up losing twice.

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Updated Date: Oct 03, 2014 07:11:19 IST