Sura Krishna Chakma is the champion of the ‘Xcel presents South Asian Pro Boxing Fight Night - The Ultimate Glory’, the first professional boxing tournament in Bangladesh organised by the Bangladesh Boxing Federation at the Shaheed Suhrawardy Indoor Stadium.
He defeated Mahendra Bahadur Chand, champion of Nepal, in the lightweight category, making Bangladesh proud.
While boxing is not much of a talked-about sport in the country, the writer had a conversation with him as he made all the headlines. He talked about his journey in the boxing ring, his future aspirations, and prospects of boxing in Bangladesh.
Sura Krishna Chakma has an affinity towards sports – especially football when he was growing up in his paternal house in Rangamati.
“I did not think of becoming a boxer when I was young,” he said to the scribe, “I was more into football.”
However, it all changed when his father died. It was hard for the family members to handle such an energetic, lively young boy, and so, his maternal uncles thought of sending him to the BKSP, where he would be able to receive both a good education and sports training.
“It was 2007 when I came to the BKSP to give a trial,” Sura Chakma took a walk down the memory lane.
“I gave a trial for football but did not qualify because of my height. Then I saw a trial for boxing going on. It was that moment when I decided to try my luck with boxing.”
In his childhood, martial arts was part of Sura’s growing up as he would practice it with his cousins, “My childhood hero was Bruce Lee, as I liked martial arts. I even learnt karate when I was young.”
Upon receiving training from the BKSP from 2007 to 2013, he joined the National Boxing Team in 2014.
Life at Dhaka University
In the same year, Sura Chakma got admitted to the University of Dhaka.
“My family always wanted me to have a good academic degree alongside a sports career. So, I was really happy to get into Dhaka University. I chose the Department of Islamic History And Culture because the department is helpful to the sportsmen.”
“And the department has played a crucial role in my development, without their support, my rise would not have been possible,” he remarked.
Sura Chakma got much support from his department, especially the then chairman Dr Tawfiqul Haider. He had to stay in the National Camp for six months in his freshman and sophomore years, and he could not sit for the midterm examinations.
Yet the department made all arrangements for him and allowed him to attend the final examinations despite not attending many classes.
Life of a professional boxer
Sura Chakma had a long and illustrious amateur boxing career with many medals and achievements, including winning the gold medal in the Bangladesh Games. Then, he thought of moving to professional boxing.
“I started boxing from my passion for martial arts, and it gave me much solace and inner peace,” he said.
“But there is a time when we all have to think of financial security. All the competitive tournaments in our country are amateur boxing tournaments, and only professional boxing can give me the financial security I have been looking for. So, I began a professional career.”
The Ultimate Glory Night is the first time an international professional boxing tournament has been hosted by Bangladesh. And the last time any international boxing tournament – amateur or professional, was held in the country was in the SAAF Games in 2010. And Sura Chakma’s journey could not be more glorious.
The state of boxing in our country
“The current state of boxing is not at all good,” Sura Chakma did not mince his words while talking about the sorry state of the boxing scene in Bangladesh, “You cannot imagine the way we have to struggle to get to a decent spot.”
“Unlike the cricketers or footballers, we receive no monthly salary or stipend, even when we are in the national team. We receive an allowance when we are in the national camp, and that is all.”
“And if we win any prize, then the government may give us rewards. There is no fixed monthly allowance or salary, and without that, it is hard for us to sustain our training, let alone grow,” he explained.
Sura Chakma gave the example of Nikhat Zareen, the Indian female boxer who has won the gold medal at the 2022 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships.
“See, even fifteen years ago, Indian boxing was at our level. Now one of their girls has won the gold medal at the World Boxing Championship, and we are yet to see progress in our boxing scene.”
Sura Chakma’s sorrow is not unwarranted, it was boxing that presented Bangladesh with its first-ever Asian Games when Mosharraf Hossain won the bronze medal in the 1986 Seoul Asian Games.
The discipline has many prospects, and in Sura Chakma’s words, “We need a proper planning and a roadmap first, to make ourselves understand where we want to see or boxing in the future.”
Martial arts and the empowerment of the ethnic minorities
It is hardly a surprise that the ethnic minorities of Bangladesh receive much less support and facilities in every aspect of the country. However, martial arts can be a good way to empower them, and give them a chance to shine on the global stage, just like Sura Chakma.
“The minorities of our country are naturally gifted sportspersons,” Sura Chakma said, “They have God-gifted genetics and physique suitable for martial arts and other sports. They just need proper training and support from the state.”
Living in the highlands allows the ethnic minorities to develop stronger, more enduring lungs. This, coupled with the hardship they face living in harsher terrain and rougher climate allows them to have a stronger, more resilient body that gives them an edge in martial arts and other physically demanding sports. Their diet also helps them to stay fitter, and grow a healthier body as well.
“If the children in the hill tracts get half the facilities of the children of the plains, there will be one hundred more Sura Chakmas,” he spoke with an unwavering air of confidence, “There is no shortage of talents there, all they need is support and facilities.”
Sura Krishna Chakma’s dream is to build a sports training academy in Rangamati town, where children from all over Rangamati can come and receive sports training.
Athletes such as him deserve popular attention and government support. They, despite having no significant support, keep making the country proud on the world stage.