India’s Laishram Sarita Devi outpunches Hungarian opponent Zsofia Bedo in boxing pro debut
New Delhi, Jan 30: India’s Laishram Sarita Devi made a winning start to her professional boxing career, silencing the taunts of her Hungarian opponent who had vowed to leave her in tears.
Devi, who became famous after she tearfully refused to accept a medal at the Asian Games, won the five-round contest against Zsofia Bedo by a unanimous decision in front of her home fans in the state of Manipur.
Bedo, a veteran of 59 professional bouts, had vowed to reduce Devi to tears once again ahead of their contest in the northeastern Indian city of Imphal.
But the 29-year-old Hungarian was totally outfought by her Indian opponent, who was cheered ringside by her family and fans.
“The victory was sweet as I outplayed an experienced boxer. The sacrifice made over the past decade has paid off,” the 31-year-old was quoted as saying by the Hindustan Times.
Devi’s quest to become India’s top female boxer hit a roadblock in 2014 when she refused to accept a bronze medal at the Asian Games, earning her a one-year ban by the sport’s world federation.
Devi accused judges of pandering to locals by declaring South Korea’s Park Ji-Na the winner on points in their semi-final, denying her a shot at gold.
But the Commonwealth Games silver medallist has moved on as she seeks a spot on the national stage alongside Vijender Singh, her Indian male counterpart who has won all four fights since turning professional.
“The Asian Games incident was very painful, but I had to erase those sad memories. That was a big reason I decided to turn pro,” said Devi.
Devi had been working with Joe Clough, a veteran American coach with experience training the likes of former heavyweight world champion Evander Holyfield.