Here's a story of one of our teammates with big dreams, Sanamali Boro, one of our many #HERoesOfDecathlon. She’s has been excelling in Muay Thai and Kickboxing for Assam on a consistent basis. Here’s how she got started, got back up in the face of adversity and kept going to rise up.

Inspiration to change your life can come from many places, even over the top action movies. Sanamali's interest in martial arts came from watching the action on the silver screen. "Growing up, I was inspired to learn karate and combat sports by watching Ong Bak and Tony Jaa's movies, also by seeing Milla Jovovich fight in a Resident Evil movie. My cousins used to train near our home, I used to hide and watch and learn and try to do the moves. One day, my cousin enrolled me in Karate classes at Nehru Stadium in Guwahati. A few months after that we had national selections in Mizoram in 2012 where I won the gold medal in the 45 kg category. My background was karate, but now I train in MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing, and more."

Sanamali in a workshop at Decathlon Azara, Guwahati

There are times when a boy or a girl practicing martial arts might cause worry in their parents, who might understandably feel apprehensive about seeing their child participate in a sport involving getting hit and hitting back. Sanamali's parents were uniformly proud of her interest though.

"My father used to be very proud of me for training in combat sports. He used to say, "Jis se bhi jhagda ho, maar khana nahi, maarna." (Whoever you fight with, don’t get beat, beat them up.”) When he passed away in 2016, I left my combat sports training for a while. I joined Decathlon Azara, Guwahati in November 2020 and started training again. For four years, I used to travel 25 km after school to train. I didn't have a phone back then, it wasn't easy but I really wanted to get better". - recalls Sanamali.

Sanamali trains in MMA, Muay Thai, Kickboxing and more.

Fighting can ironically be one of the ways towards finding the calm within you, as Sanamali discovered. "I really think girls should train in self-defence. It helps you build mental strength and training helps you get rid of stress. It teaches us to be humble and polite, to stay grounded, and never let our ego get in the way of decision-making. In today's times, it's really important for women to know basic self-defence techniques. My pursuit of martial arts has given me an opportunity to explore different parts of India and get to know more about sports."

They say adversity builds or reveals character, and a sport like martial arts gives you ample opportunities to keep chipping away at layers till you chisel yourself into a stronger version of you, mentally and physically. "My mother has helped me in having a fighter's mentality. "Jo karna hai, apne dum pe karo" she says (Whatever you have to do, be self sufficient in doing it.”) I'm now working full-time in Decathlon Azara, and training to one day compete in the One Championship and UFC." - Sanamali.

Sanamali has been winning laurels for Assam.

What do you do when you have no one in your weight class? Sanamali chose to fight one weight category ABOVE her weight AND won Silver in the Golden Mongkhon Pro Am Muay Thai Championship, earning her a spot in the WMF Muay Thai World Championship. She’s also won gold at the 18th All-Assam Amateur Muay Thai Championship, 2022.

"It was such a good feeling to win. I had a bit less time to train but I've still been training regularly, on my holidays, during my breaks, and whenever I can. I'm thankful to Muay Master Ayekpam Rakhesh Meetei for all he's doing to help promote Muay Thai here and to my coach Manas Daimary. He once had 12 days to help me train for Xtreme Akhaada. It was one of my proudest moments to win the Gold Medal and Best Female Fighter award in the contest."

"I'm happy that I got to get back to competing after I joined Decathlon, where my store leader also helped with the travel for some tournaments I competed in. My next aim is to represent India in the GAMMA World Championships in 2024 where I've been selected."

One of the teammates she's inspired to take up martial arts include Sahil Jigdung, who's leading B2B Partnerships in Decathlon Azara, Guwahati. "I used to be a street fighter. Sanamali told me 'A real man fights in a controlled way. Take your anger out in the fighting ring, not outside.' That motivated me to practice martial arts and channel my energy constructively."- recalls Sahil.

I first got to connect with her two years ago, since then, she's only continued to get better and more energetic. We're proud of her hard work and accomplishments and wish her the very best as she continue to inspire us all.

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