You can make anything by writing – CS Lewis
Finally, after some phone calls time was fixed to meet Mamota Devi Yumnam at her gym, ‘The Impact’ at Adchini in the capital. She reached little bit late but explains, “Hope I didn’t made you guys wait for long. I had to make lunch for my kids and feed them. Then I came running.” Okay apologies accepted and surprised to know that she has three kids, two daughters (13 and 9) and 6 years old son. As we make ourselves comfortable, Mamota tells us how it all began. “My husband and I opened this gym in March 2010 and whenever he is out for work, I take care of it. Then i started gyming just to stay fit and to look good as a wife of champion bodybuilder.” Her husband Borun Yumnam is a silver medalist in Mr. Asia 2009, six times Mr. India, two times Mr. Delhi and six times Mr. Manipur.
“I was never health freak but used to walk ramp in fashion shows and people did appreciate my figure but it was all gone with marriage and then three kids,” says the thirty-four years old bodybuilder. “However when I hit the gym, a trainer noticed the improvement in me in just a year. Even my husband was surprised to see the change and they encouraged me to take it seriously. It was easy going for me as everything was in the house. I was not expert but knew a bit of bodybuilding from my husband.” Mamota went on to take part in National Fitness Championship 2012 in Pune where she came fourth in her catergory (under 50 Kg) which surprised many. “I didn’t win there but what really motivated me is that all the photographers were taking my photos not the winners. Some judges and audience thought that I had the best physique. I think my opponents got better of me in gymnasium and flexibility.”
After knowing her potential there was no more stopping. “I was really excited and could not even eat food properly. I could not stop myself but take number of Mr. Sanjay More, General Secretary, Indian Body Building Federation from my husband. SMS him to check when is the next event and that I want to take part. Thankfully, he called me back and told me to be ready with passport as it will be outside India. Then I came to senses, when I had to run around and stand queues for passport, taking care of household daily chores and then hit the gym for exercise.” Well she did it but it’s still just hard to imagine how she did it. “Literally I run to school to fetch my son. I am hardly bothered about the people on the road but they must be thinking that I am mad,” laughs Mamota the mother.
But don’t you forget that bodybuilding is not just about pumping weights and exercise but a balanced diet with proper supplements. “My husband works for Central Reserve Police Force and both of us are into body building, so most of our earning goes into our diet. I am very grateful to my husband that he never gave up on me and shared everything equally, even the diet. We had a really tough time and we only know how we came out from there.” Finally, both husband and wife went to IFBB Asian Body Building and Fitness Championship at Tashkent, Uzbekistan in June 2012 where she won a bronze medal but Borun didn’t get podium finish. Retrospecting into what went wrong, “Had I had a proper training I could have at least won the silver. I did not know how to pose for showing off muscles properly for each body part. And then we didn’t know that black bikini was the dress code, though they allowed me and I was the only one wearing red.”
After this, she won a bronze medal again in the 2nd Women Body Building Championship 2012 in Bangkok. “I was upset that I came third again but my husband makes me realise that it doesn’t matter what rank but what matters is a medal in world championship. I agree that the one who won gold was better than I was but I could have done better then the silver medalist but here also I have the same posing problem. But who has the luxury to stand in front of the mirror and keep posing when there are thousand of works to do at home. It would have been much easier for a young unmarried girl,” says with a deep sigh.
That brings us to a very important topic, age is not on her side, what’s her future plan? “If god’s willing and nothing happens to my body, I want to go on for a while. I met this lady last tournament, she told me that she took up bodybuilding when she was of my age and that she is fifty- two years old grandmother. That was really inspiring but on the other side, kids are growing and they also want their mom around like any other children.” Things were getting gloomy but suddenly, “Now they are more understanding! Initially, they were a bit shy about me being a body builder. I went to their annual function and school authorities called me out of nowhere to give away some prize. It was also announced that I was their mother and I was only women body builder to win an international medal. That really clicked with them, now they ask me to do more exercise and bring more medals. It is really funny if you see our family album, in most of them we are stretching our muscles. It’s like, come on dad is showing his triceps we will show our bicep.”
Mamota looks up at the clock, time to hit the gym and slowly people are coming in, but her expression is like she got many things to say. “Now it’s high time for the government to do more for sports from grass root level. For example, I spend money from my pocket to take part in the competition. Even after winning I had to spend more to attend my felicitation programs, so I am more into debt. Like this how will youngster want to take up sports as a career? The only monetary help I got till now is Rs.4000 from Manipur Gymnasium, what is that when our expenditure is around Rs.30000 to 40,000 per month on diet during competition. Sport’s governing body needs to do something about this or there is no pride in winning laurels for the country!” She gets into her exercising gear and starts doing push ups with a hope that better days are coming.
(Published in Society March ’13, Page No. 92)