To our tremendous relief, the 65-day blockade of Manipur appears to be over, thereby allowing much-needed food and medicine to flow into the Indian state. (Microkhan’s backgrounder on the crisis can be found here.) Now, perhaps, the local government can focus on what strikes us a problem of only slightly lesser importance: the long decline in the quality of Manipur’s storied arm-wrestling team, which the Koklata Telegraph attributes to official neglect:
Manipur Armwrestling Association secretary K. Sharatchandra Singh today said the popularity of arm-wrestling in Manipur had nosedived since the eighties for lack of state patronage.
Manipur, he said, had produced her first world champion in 1986 as S. Victoria Devi won the title in the 45kg category, while Th. Rajen Singh in 55kg and N. Sarat Singh in the 60kg category were also crowned champions in that meet held in Calcutta.
In the following year’s edition in London, S. Victoria Devi repeated her feat in the 45kg category and Ch. Hemabati Devi claimed the 45kg world champion’s title in 1988 in Sweden.
“Then for almost 20 years there was a long lull as the state government stopped financial assistance. This hit the state arm-wrestlers hard and dampened their spirit. The men even failed in the national arena,” he said.
Concerned readers can offer financial assistance via the MAA’s website. We reckon it shouldn’t take more than a few thousand dollars to set up the state’s arm wrestlers with some vintage Neil Lewis training machines.