Laishram Sayon Metiei has become the first wrestler from Manipur to be noticed at the National-level by making it to the final of the boys’ 50kg Greco-Roman competition at the inaugural Khelo India School Games at the KD Jadhav Stadium in New Delhi.
This is certainly a first of sorts for a state that has so far produced numerous boxers, footballers and weightlifters.
The first impressions of the youngster do not, in any way, give away the enormity of his achievements. Hailing from a little village close to Imphal, Sayon has made a mark in a sport that is not the first you would associate with Manipur.
To his credit, Sayon has competed internationally. In 2016, he represented India at the Asian and World Cadet Championships in 46kg Greco Roman competitions. He managed only a modest finish of 13th and 11th respectively but has shown his determination to evolve as a technically sound and tactically aware wrestler.
Hailing from a humble background, Sayon’s tryst with wrestling began in 2013. Within a year of taking up this sport, he had already won a 46kg silver at the 2014 SGFI competition. Back then, he competed freestyle. Now he has reached the 50kg Greco Roman finals at the inaugural Khelo India School Games where he was slated to face Haryana’s Pradeep Vinod.
“My mother is a homemaker while my father is a farmer. That’s my family’s only source of income,” Sayon says. “Because of this, I am thankful to my coach Muhindro sir for bringing me this far. My dream is to win a medal for my country. Without my coach and my family, I would never have made it this far,” he added.
The Khelo India School Games may well be his passport to a successful career.
Sayon’s mentor and coach M Muhindro Singh reveals that he made his trainee shift to Greco-Roman. “That, according to me, represents Manipur more,” Muhindro Singh said. “Sayon has done very well to pick it up fast.”
“In Manipur, wrestling is called Mukna – just as it is called kushti in Hindi,” says Muhindro Singh. “Mukna is a legacy of Manipur’s royalty. It is considered prestigious when men fight it out in a show of strength and ultimately emerges victorious. We come from a mountainous region. Wrestling is in our blood. Especially the Greco-Roman style.”
In India, wrestling is synonymous with the northern states of Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, but now one can add Manipur to that list.