India boxer MC Mary Kom added yet another chapter to her storied career by winning gold in women’s 45-48 kg category at the ongoing Commonwealth Games, 2018 in Gold Coast.
When Mary Kom claimed her fifth Asian Championships Gold in Vietnam in November, it surely was one of the greatest comebacks in Indian sports. It must have been tough for the 35-year-old considering she was away from the boxing ring for a considerable amount of time but to her credit, Mary looked better than ever with a dominant performance, signalling that she had put the disappointment of not qualifying for Rio Olympics on the backburner.
A high school dropout
Yes, this boxing superstar could not complete her high school education for her increasing passion for boxing. But, later, she finished her schooling through alternative ways and even completed her graduation.
Initially discouraged by family
She faced the first obstacle from nobody else but her own orthodox family who could not support the idea of their daughter taking part in an unconventional sport as it was not considered as a “women’s game”. Even, when the news of her first win came into the local newspaper, her father who used to work as a poor landless farmer, scolded her vehemently.
Inspired By Dingko Singh
Mary was interested in athletics from a young age. She switched to boxing after being inspired by Dingko Singh from Manipur who won a gold medal at the Asian Games in 1998.
Mary Kom is 5 times AIBA champion
And then she made it a habit to win gold medals at the AIBA championship in senior boxing. Till now, she has been the proud winner of 5 gold medals. In 2008, it’s this brilliant performance and consistency that earned her the prestigious title of ‘Magnificent Mary’
Dislikes Injuring Opponents
Mary dislikes injuring her opponents. She says, “If I’ve injured my opponent, I often go to her and say sorry for getting out of the ring.”
Hardly Known In India
Even after winning 5 world championships, Mary Kom was hardly known in India. It was only after her bronze medal victory at the London Olympics that people began to notice her incredible achievements.
London was where all my dreams came true. Before then I was a five-times world champion and a nobody. I wasn’t happy. I wanted more. Everyone watches the Olympics, so when I got a bronze medal doors opened, things changed, and people in India started recognizing me. – Mary Kom
In a country with barely any athletic achievements, it is surprising that a rare athletic find like Mary was practically ignored by the media and sponsors. She has struggled to find recognition and financial rewards matching her achievements.
Mary is often astonished by the amount of money offered to cricket players in India, through endorsements and auctions at the Indian Premier League for cricket.
In ten years I have not made a total of even one crore ($203,000). – Mary Kom
The Man Behind This Successful Woman
Mary ’s husband, K. Onler Kom is her biggest supporter and has been functioning as her mentor, motivator and manager, ever since he met her as an 18-year-old teenager in 2001.
Onler helped raise funds when Mary did not have enough money to take part in her first Amateur World Boxing Championship in USA, 2001. He takes every effort to see that Mary is always focused on her training.
If there’s any problem in the family, my husband never tells me about it. He says, Don’t think about the children, don’t think about us. You just concentrate on your training. – Mary Kom
Mary Kom has achieved Govt. recognitions
For her outstanding achievements and an inspiring life, Mary Kom has received a lot of govt. accolades. From Arjuna Award to Padma Shree, from Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award to have a road named after her, her bag is full of recognition and awards.
An academy of her own
To encourage and help thousands of Mary Koms in achieving their dreams in boxing, this real-life fighter has founded her own MC Mary Kom Boxing Academy in her home state. And to make sure that poverty should not come between an aspiring boxer and her dreams, she has been giving free training to numerous underprivileged girls since 2007.