Mary Kom-A True Warrior
2008, China – Ningbo city, finals of the Women’s World Boxing Championship. The entire stadium was filled up with spectators. and was reverberating owing to the grand rounds of applause. As the moments passed by, a brave personality, slender in shape, was engaged in a bout with Steluta Dute, a boxer from Romania, who already had won many major world championships by that time. Her triumph was dissented by most of the spectators around the world. She becoming a mother of a pair of children then was the main reason behind that intention among the spectators. She was away from the ring for two long years. Besides, she had a training for a small duration of four months only. Also, a defeat in the Asian Boxing championship added strength to the disagreement of her victory. But, she was not afraid, even a little. The battle had begun. From the beginning of the bout itself, she had started to sharpen her punches. Though she did tremble a bit in the beginning, she stabilized eventually, moving in the ring like a cheetah. She had showered punches on the opponent. The Romenia boxer had not had even a single moment to recover from her punches. Finally, she had thrashed and demolished the opponent with a score of 7-1. And, she was none other than the Women’s World Boxing Champion, Made in India Boxer, Manipur’s Kohinoor-Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, also known as MC Mary Kom.
Moving like a streak of lightening, wrath, rage, agitation, excitement, death blows from the fist, bloodshed, carnage, bold game-the words that define Boxing. It is a game just for the name sake, it sometimes could be fatal too. Mary Kom is a precious lady who has entered the ring, made her opponents get frightened and brought many memorable triumphs under her feet. Each breath she draws is assimilated with pride.
Mary Kom was born into a poor family in a small village named Churachandpur,in Manipur in North East India. Struggle between darkness and brightness, unendurable poverty, pathetic situations, family reeling in debt, quarreling for food and shelter, struggle between Revolutionists and Indian Army, unable to know what could happen in the next moment of their lives-words describing her childhood. Mary was brought up under these type situations. She was more attracted to sports than academics. Under the situations of resorting to begging for food too, she ran in hills and valleys and mastered many games. Expertise in Athletics had been her dream during childhood days.
When her family members and neighbors were thinking that she would become proficient in Athletics and earn fame to their village, surprisingly, Mary had started stepping towards Boxing. And there was a strong reason behind her decision. She was rejoiced when Dinku Singh, hailing from her village won a Gold medal in Boxing at 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. She was astonished on hundreds of youngsters in her village stepping into the Boxing ring, taking him as an inspiration. She too developed immense fondness for Boxing and bid a good bye to Athletics. She got prepared to skill the art of punching. But, Mary’s increase in interest for Boxing perplexed her father, who was a small scale farmer. Feeding Mary and her siblings was an arduous task for him. All his expectations were on her sharp and active daughter Mary. His hopes were that Mary would feed the family by doing well in either sports or academics. He had a thought of changing the mind of his daughter who was going against his wishes. He tried to persuade her that she could not do well in Boxing, as that game was meant only for men. But, his words could not show any impact on Mary. She had started to practice the game and increase her stamina. She got familiarized with the basics in less than fifteen days. She had become a care of address for power packed punches. In a few months after that she became a State Champion in Boxing.
Mary desired to participate in 2001 National Boxing Competitions. But she had neither financial assurance nor sponsors, to bear her expenses. Arranging the required provisions herself had become a tiresome task for her. But,she never stepped backward. The penchant she had for boxing in the depth of her heart was enormous. Reacting to her devotion towards Boxing, a private sports organisation in Delhi had stepped forward to help her. Summarizing the wretched conditions around her, she burst forth more spitefully in the Boxing rings in the Nationals and then she went to America for taking part in International competitions. Blowing mighty punches on the opponents, she had won a Bronze medal in the first ever Women’s World Boxing Championship in 2001. Failing to bag the Gold medal,led to a huge discontentment in her. But, in the 2002 Women’s World Boxing Championship, she bagged a Gold medal by flabbergasting the then Boxing stalwarts. Her National and International career graph with her punches and her accomplishments as the axes had started rising exponentially. She had been the Women’s National Boxing Champion from 2000 to 2005. Owing to the shower of her mighty punches, the Gold medals fell in a heap around her in many International tournaments. Maintaining winning streak in Boxing is very challenging task for anyone, but not Mary who did that with ridiculous ease in her career, crossing many milestones.
Despite her dominion at National and International levels, she had received neither adequate income nor enough respect. Besides, her family responsibility too was on her shoulders. The struggle she had unable to feed her family on one side and not getting adequate sponsors and required support the Government on the other side was beyond description. Treating the sports celebrities with respectable ranks and lofty jobs is a common practice for Central Government in India. Cricketer Harbhajan Singh and Athlete Anju Bobby were posted under crucial sectors in Police and Customs departments respectively by the Government. Unlike those, Mary, a National champion, Queen of Manipur was given some petty job in Police department. She was drowned in a confusion, if to be happy about getting some means of earning in Police department despite coming from a poor family or to feel gloomy on receiving such a low grade honor on achieving a lot on International arena. But, she had never lost her confidence. In 2005, she once again had showed the world that there was no competition to her by winning the Women’s World Boxing Championship under 46 kgs category. The streets of Manipur were rejoiced about Mary’s achievement. Mary was delighted when Manipur Government had announced a reward of 1,30,000 INR for her. But receiving an invalid cheque six months after the announcement of the reward had left her dumbstruck. But, these things had never made her step backward in her career,instead she had risen like a ball hit to the wall. Marriage, childbirth and child-rearing, fulfilling the duties of a wife, a daughter, an eldest sister, a mother could not stop her hunt for medals. She achieved a hat-trick by winning the Women’s World Boxing Championship in 2006. And,this time, the Government of Manipur had to respond on an accelerated note. The Boxing legend was sanctioned a cash reward and post of Inspector in Police department. Eventually, her struggle for sponsors too faded away and she won the Women’s World Boxing Championship in 2008 too.
Though she had won many National and International Championships by the age of 25, her dream was something big and something different. That is, to fetch India a Gold medal in Boxing in Olympics and to be the first ever women to the Olympic Boxing Medal. Olympics is a place which defines every Indian Athlete other than Cricketers, changing their fortunes. But, before the beginning of the competition itself, Mary had to face a death blow. Till that time, she had been participating in 46 kgs category but, the category introduced in Olympics was 48-51 kgs one. But the killer instinct in Mary made her step forward. With a champion’s cold fury, Mary worked laboriously on her way up two weight classes in three years.
Dream come true:
The London Olympics had finally begun. In the first round, Mary had defeated Poland Boxer Karolina Michalczuk 19-14. In the quarter-final, the following day, she had defeated Maroua Rahali of Tunisia with a score of 15-6. She had to face Nicola Adams of UK in the semi-final and lost the bout with a score of 6-11. Nevertheless, she stood third in the competition and garnered her first Olympic Bronze medal. Mary Kom scripted history on August8, 2012 by becoming the country’s first woman boxer to win a medal at the Olympics and “Mother Marry” had her dream finally come true.
Padma Bhushan (Sports), 2013
Arjuna Award (Boxing), 2003
Padma Shree (Sports), 2006
People of the Year- Limca Book of Records, 2007
CNN-IBN & Reliance Industries’ Real Heroes Award 2008
Pepsi MTV Youth Icon 2008
‘Magnificent Mary’, AIBA 2008
Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, 2009
International Boxing Association’s Ambassador for Women’s Boxing 2009
Sportswoman of the year 2010, Sahara Sports Award