Mary Kom is an Indian boxer who was born in Manipur. She came from a very poor family and her parents Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom were both farmers who used to work on the fields.
She got inspired by Dingko Singh, also from Manipur who returned home in 1998 with a gold medal in boxing at the Bangkok Asian Games. After being in awe of this success, Mary decided to give boxing a whirl.
At the age of 15, she decided to leave her town and join a sports academy in Imphal. She trained under coach M. Narjit Singh and kept her boxing passion a secret from her father as initially he was completely opposed it. Her father believed that by pursuing boxing, her face would get distorted and her chances of marriage would drastically reduce.
She didn't let this stop her, she went on to pursue her dreams.
Today Mark Kom is the proud daughter of India. She has achieved a lot and has won many awards that have inspired thousands of youth to take up boxing as a sport. She is the only woman to win the World Amateur Boxing Championship times. She is also the only woman to win medals in each of the 7 (first) World Championship.
Rightfully, she has been nicknamed, 'Magnificent Mary'.
In 2019 she created history. She went on to win the 8th medal in World Championships. She now holds the record for most world medals won in both the men's and women's category. Mary Kom has a very good chance entering in the 51kg category for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the qualifiers of which are to be held later this year.
There are so many lesser-known facts about Mary Kom. Let's see the top 5 lesser-known facts about Mary Kom.
1.Only Indian female to qualify in 2012 Olympics
Even though Mary Kom did qualify and was the only female to qualify for the 2012 Olympics, she was in quite a pickle. All her life she had competed in the 46kgs category, but was made to compete in the 51kgs category at the Olympics. This was because the Olympic governing body decided to only host 3 weight categories.
But she didn't let this stop her. She went on to fight. She made it all the way to the semi-finals where she had a face a fierce competitor. She was up against Nicole Adams from Great Britain, who too have impressive titles to her name.
Adams had a distinct weight advantage over Mary and she won that match 6-11. Mary Kom did give her best shot, but she had to settle for bronze. This in itself was a great deal. Not only was she the first Indian female to qualify in boxing at the Olympics, but she was also the first Indian female to win a medal for India at the Olympics in boxing.
2. Mary Kom has founded her own academy
Not a lot of people are aware of the fact that Mary Kom has set up her own academy in her hometown - Mary Kom Regional Boxing Foundation.
As a successful boxer, Mary Kom wants to inspire many others to take up boxing. Keeping that in mind she opened her academy. Not only does she want to teach young kids how to box, but she also gives free training to underprivileged girls. Coming from a poor background herself, Mary didn't want to let poverty be the reason to not take up boxing.
By opening an academy she wanted to create a centre of excellence where she can produce boxing champions. Her vision is to create a support system and nurture young boxers by moulding them and creating an extremely strong base for them.
3. Mary Kom was discouraged to become a boxer
As a young growing girl from a small village in Manipur, going up to your father and telling him you want to be a female boxer isn't exactly easy. That's exactly what Mary had foreseen.
She knew if she had approached her father and told him she wanted to be a boxer, he would shut it down idea immediately. Keeping this in mind, Mary used to go for boxing training secretly. Eventually, her father found out and wasn't supportive of it at all.
When Mary did well and secured her first win, which was made public by the local news, her father scolded her instead of supporting her. Her father believed that boxing was not for women and she shouldn't pursue it. Mary Kom had steely determination though and she didn't let this stop her.
4. Awards, laurels, and achievements
Mary Kom is one of India's best female boxers and we all know that she is considered a boxing pioneer in Indian. But what most people do not know is the extensive list of her awards and achievements.
Ever since she has joined the competitive boxing world, she has been the recipient of many awards. Her list of awards and achievements are truly impressive and a great inspiration to budding boxers. Let's have a look:
- 6-time Women's World Amateur Boxing Championship six times.
- Commonwealth Games Gold 2018
- 5-time Asian Women's Champion
- 2010 Asian Games Bronze, 2014 Asian Games Gold
- AIBA legend's award
- AIBA's brand ambassador for the Women's World Boxing Championship (2016)
- Arjuna Award (2003)
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (2009)
- Padma Shri (2006), Padma Bhushan (2013), Padma Vibhushan (2020)
- She was named people of the year - Limca Book of Record in 2007
- Pepsi MTV Youth Icon 2008
5. Life besides boxing
Mary Kom took oath as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the Upper House in 2016. At the time she was nominated as MP, the qualification for the Olympics were going on and her focus was on that only. She said even though it was a great honour for her, she didn't want to pressurise herself and think about her role as an MP. She wanted all her attention to be on qualifying for the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Her life besides boxing doesn't end just here. This mother of two is the epitome of hard work, drive and dedication. Little is it known that she is also an animal rights supporter. She is completely against harming animals for entertainment purposes.