SARAH WARIS | 28 NOVEMBER, 2018
Her Passion and Strength will be Mary Kom’s Legacy
She continued to conquer each demon with ease
With a flurry of medals and titles to her name, MC Mary Kom needs no introduction. As she became the first boxer in the history to clinch six World Championship Golds on Saturday, one could not help but admire her for the dedication and spirit she’s exhibited over the years.
Braving the odds and fighting a tough childhood that was defined by no support, Mary took to the boxing ring on her own, aware that the journey ahead would be a tough one.
Influenced by fellow Manipuri Dinko Singh’s Gold-winning efforts at the 1998 Asian Games, the youngster won her first Women’s National Boxing Championship three years later – the same year she stood second in the World Championships.
She would better her performance next year, winning the World Championships in 2002. And thus began the career of Mary Kom, which would scale unprecedented heights in the following decade.
Kom left an impression almost immediately in the Asian Boxing Championships, and has so far won five titles there. She also won eight international medals between 2001 and 2006.
Having made her mark in the boxing ring, at this point Kom decided to take a sabbatical from the sport to get married in 2005 and have kids. Playing what has been termed a ‘masculine sport’ was challenging enough, and continuing it after becoming a mother was tougher.
Just as talk of an early retirement started doing the rounds, Mary Kom was back again. In 2008 she clinched her fourth AIBA Women’s World Championship title. After that she was on a winning spree, winning quite simply everything she fought for.
A silver at the Asian Women’s Championship in 2008, which was improved to gold two years later; a bronze at the Asian Games; and a total of six golds in four years ensured that she was among the frontrunners in the London Olympics, where women’s boxing was introduced for the first time.
Though she was unable to walk away with the gold there, Mary did clinch a bronze and then took another break to have another son a year later.
While the number of triumphs she has registered is a feat worth applauding, Kom’s legacy will include her ability to diss aside criticism from a very young age, and follow the path towards her passion.
Born in Manipur, the youngster would help her parents out in the field by day, and at night she would hone her skills in boxing.
Her father was against her taking up a sport that was more for the ‘masculine gender’, but she didn’t let it stop her from pursuing her dreams.
Practising away from his glowering and without proper equipment, Kom exhibited tremendous courage as she moved to Imphal to excel in her chosen field.
The journey in the academy was not easy either – she complained of biased coaches and even molestation, but she continued to conquer each demon with ease. Even when officials looked down upon her as she was a woman, she carried on and instead of being deterred she let it make her stronger to face the obstacles still to come.
Her family members asked her to forego playing for India and settle down as a mother instead. But a year after her youngest son was born, Kom returned, more confident than ever, and bagged her first ever Gold Medal at the Asian Games at Incheon in 2014.
Last year she won her fifth gold at the Asian Championships, and followed it with another gold at this year’s Commonwealth Games, before she rounded up the year with an unprecedented sixth World Championship gold.
With all eyes set on the 2020 Olympics, Mary Kom, aged 35, is a beacon of inspiration; a woman who does not hesitate to challenge prevailing notions, and an athlete who hardly succumbs to even the sternest conditions.
And that will forever remain her legacy.