Killing it at 70

What if you could live a life less ordinary? What if you could push yourself an
extra mile to get to your destination? What if you were a rock? What if you could change the world? While we all possess the power to make a difference, only a few
realise it and dedicate their heart & soul to get to the highest pedestal.
Sunday Shillong finds two extraordinary characters, one a Taekwondo master and the other a runner, who are making a difference in their own ways.


By Nabamita Mitra


The face of Goddess Kali tattooed on the left forearm of Samson Killing, alias Soniram, stares at strangers with intimidating eyes prompting one to create a mental profile of the man flaunting it. But 70-year-old Killing’s countenance can put one at ease as his eyes smile with an unexpected profundity when he is greeted.
Killing is no ordinary senior citizen. The Taekwondo master defies age and participates regularly in championships. “I am among a few senior players in the country,” he says.
Originally from Karbi Anglong, Killing was a practitioner of herbal medicines, a family profession, before he took up the sport seriously.
In 1984, when Killing was 32 years, Dinen War Laithma, a Taekwondo trainer, asked him to join the classes.
“I was always very particular about fitness and so I thought Taekwondo would be good not only for a healthy body but also for self-defense. So I joined and am still continuing,” he says.
Clad in a simple white cotton kurti and shorts with a gamosa around his neck and a red tika on his forehead, one can easily mistake the veteran player for a priest. His ponytailed hair, complemented by silky white beard and moustache, makes him look more sage-like. But when he flexes his muscles and clenches his fists (the shy Taekwondo player had to be coaxed into posing for a photograph) Killing is a different man. He proudly flaunts the tattooes of Goddess Kali and his names, Samson and Soniram, etched on two arms.

“I am a worshipper of Goddess Kali. She gives me the strength to do what I do,” he replies to a query about the red tika.
Killing got his black belt in 1992. It was after this that he took the name Samson. Asked about his masters, Killing says he is “thankful to Master Mallai, Bah Dinen and Luthre M Lohar”.
The Taekwondo black belt holder shifted to Shillong in 1988 and lived in Mawlai Nongpdeng. He started his Taekwondo school in Nongmynsong in 2000 and has 36 students at present.
“There are many private institutes which teach Taekwondo. But my school has the affiliation from the Meghalaya Taekwondo Association and is recognised by the Meghalaya Olympic Association and the Taekwondo Federation of India,” says Killing.
Besides his young students, Killing also trains paramilitary personnel, border sentinels and home guards. The trainer says he has a regimented life and his day starts at 3am.

“I go out for running at 4am. By 5 in the morning, I reach my Taekwondo class,” he says.
Killing has a humility and softness in his speech that contradicts the image of a tough master. He smiles and skirts questions on his achievements and after several requests, he says he has played at the national level and has travelled to different states for championships. He represented the state in a tournament held in July in Darjeeling as the senior most player in the heavyweight category.

Running marathon is also among the feathers in Killing’s cap. He recently won the first prize at Nongpoh Run.
He can also speak many languages like Assamese, Karbi, Khasi, Hindi and even Bengali. In fact, he spoke in Bengali during the interview.
Killing’s youngest of three daughters, Matrimaya Mawroh, is also a black belt and trains students at his father’s Nongmensong Taekwondo School.
The veteran player says many among his six children know Taekwondo. But none has the father’s talent for practising herbal medicine.
Despite his busy schedule, Killing has not lost respect for “the power that my father had passed on to me” and so Kaviraj Soniram has not given up the family tradition.
Bhogtoram Mawroh, Killing’s eldest son, says he too wanted to be a black belt but “I was not quite a fighter”.
“I was more interested in martial arts. I started when I was in Class XI. I went to Jorhat for a tournament and participated in a few competitions in Meghalaya. But I did not do very well. I have won just two fights in my whole life. My Taekwondo training stopped when I joined masters,” he says.
Asked about his father’s sport, Mawroh says Taekwondo is a way of life for his father. “He is really passionate about Taekwondo and practises all the time. It is a little embarrassing for me because I have become lazy,” the son confesses.

If Killing and his achievement rouse one’s interest, then there is more to this man, and his car. His remodelled car, which is in stark contrast to his humble nature, has been redesigned to add muscle to the equally humble Maruti 800. It speaks more about Samson than Soniram. The stickers of the master’s Taekwondo moves adorn the body of the car.
Everything seems to be unique about the elderly man. Talking about his age and a wonder that he is, Killing says he follows a strict diet comprising chana, fruits, roti and magur fish and gave up alcohol long back. “Earlier, I had diabetes and high pressure. I hardly have any ailment now,” he looks up to thank the power he believes in.

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