Mary Kom, the Boxer and the Woman: Never Say Die!

Mary Kom, wins the world boxing championship

Mary Kom, wins the world boxing championship

Life is all about the challenges that come your way. So is the case with boxing, especially when a woman decides to take it up in India! This awareness is what motivates Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, popularly known as MC Mary Kom, to play and win. For her, nothing is impossible if you are strong willed! She has changed the image of boxing and shown to the world it’s not only a man’s domain alone. Mary Kom became the first Indian woman boxer to win a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games at Incheon bringing pride to India.

Six-time world champion, Mary Kom believes that hard work is the only key to success. Yes, there are sacrifices in life but it’s worth it. Reluctance towards athletics gave way to passion for boxing, which further ignited the desire in her heart to excel in a sport that could earn her fame and fortune. Besides the strong opposition from her father towards boxing who wanted Mary to excel in athletics, Mary went on without any fear and became an Olympic bronze-medalist boxer. She has made many people change their thoughts about boxing as a sport. A gap of two years didn’t make any difference to her performance, and, in fact, she emerged stronger as a boxer with her dedication and hard work alongside support from her husband, Onler.

Mary Kom’s journey into stardom

As a furious kid, Mary had got her motivation from Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh who won the gold medal at the 1998 Asian Games. It was only after that MC Mary Kom decided to go to Imphal to perk up her boxing in 2000. Despite her poor background and oppositions from the boxing federation, Mary fought all odds and emerged a champion. Originally named Chungneijang by her grandmother, she went with the name ‘Mary Kom’ simply to have a name that sounded easy and being a Christian it seemed true to life for her.

From a disadvantaged, bullied youngster Mary Kom turned out to be a world champion and role-model for many. The journey wasn’t trouble-free but Mary believed in overcoming obstacles. Although she was interested in athletics since childhood, it was boxing that appealed more to her. With coaching from M Narjit Singh, Manipur State boxing coach, Mary started her training at Imphal. In 2008, she won a silver medal at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship, after a two-year break. In the same year, she got her fourth straight gold medal at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in China followed by a gold medal at the 2009 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam.

In 2010, Kom bagged a gold medal at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship. She also had the nobility of bearing the Queen’s Baton at the opening ceremony run of 2010 Asian Games. Unfortunately, she couldn’t take part in the games because women boxing had not been included. At the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship held in Barbados, she won her fifth consecutive gold. In 2011, she won the gold medal at the Asian Women’s Cup in China and went on winning gold in 2012 at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship in Mongolia.

Kom won her first gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games held at Incheon, South Korea, becoming the only Indian woman winning a gold medal at the Asian Games. Mary Kom clinched her first Olympic bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics at London. The Manipur Government awarded Rs 50 lakh and two acres of land to Kom as a reward. Mary had made a name for her by now and became the Super Fight League – mixed martial arts reality show – brand ambassador.

On 26 April 2016, the President of India nominated Mary Kom as a member of the Rajya Sabha. In 2017, along with Akhil Kumar, Mary Kom was appointed a national observer for boxing. On 24 November 2018, Mary Kom became the first woman to bag 6 World Championships. Kom achieved this marvellous feat by defeating Hannah Okhota at the 10th AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships being held in New Delhi.

An all-rounder

Longing to be a champion, Mary approached coach K Kosana Meitei. Mary was adamant on making a name for herself and taking out her family from poverty. She went on adding laurels to her career alongside a happy family, with twin sons and another boy born in 2013 which is indeed a huge achievement. She balanced it well, becoming the Magnificent Mary and rubbished talks of gap years for a boxer to emerge a champion. Kom also has started a female-only fight club at Imphal where she trains girls to protect themselves against sexual violence. Not only that, Mary also trains underprivileged youth without any fee. Mary Kom believes that the much-needed support for underprivileged boxers will help them hone their skills and gain confidence by exposing them to the sport.

Read More on – Indian Sportswomen of International fame

Personal life

Mary Kom was born in Kangathei, in Churachandpur district of Manipur. Born to Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom, she completed her primary education from Loktak Christian Model High School, Moirang and attended St. Xavier Catholic School, Moirang. She then moved to Adimjati High School in Imphal, for her schooling for Class IX and X, but was unable to pass the matriculation exam. At this time she quit her school and gave her examination from NIOS, Imphal, and graduation from Churachandpur College. Married to K Onler Kom, Mary has twin sons – Rechungvar and Khupneivar. In 2013, they had their third baby boy and named him Prince Chungthanglen Kom. Onler and Mary met in 2001. After a few years of dating, they got married in 2005.

Boxing in Bollywood

Mary Kom’s majestic wins and her determination towards boxing while fighting all odds did make her a star. She couldn’t stay away from the Bollywood blitz as well and in 2014 Sanjay Leela Bhansali made a movie named Mary Kom. Priyanka Chopra played the role of Mary Kom and brought into limelight the story of Mary Kom.

The movie, Mary Kom, showed that she did not have all the resources to carry on her boxing career with ease, but she surely had the dedication which knew no limit. With a series of flashback events depicting the journey and transformation of an ordinary girl into a boxer as we know today, Mary Kom the movie touched many hearts. Between her married life and kids, how she juggles to pull off her best performance is captured. The movie explores her past and the hardships she went through including her father’s opposition to boxing. However, her supportive husband Onler Kom has an equal share in her victories. He always stood by her side in every decision and subsequently emerged a victorious Mary. Mary’s eternal guts and love for boxing aroused a sense of responsibility in the audience. According to viewer reviews, people in India would want our country to encourage and support such bright talents who fight against all odds and have the grit to move on.

International Titles won by Mary Kom

Year Medal Weight Competition Location
2001 Silver 48 AIBA Women’s World Championships Scranton, Pennsylvania, USA
2002 Gold 45 AIBA Women’s World Championships Antalya, Turkey
2002 Gold 45 Witch Cup Pécs, Hungary
2003 Gold 46 Asian Women’s Championships Hisar, India
2004 Gold 41 Women’s World Cup Tønsberg, Norway
2005 Gold 46 Asian Women’s Championships Kaohsiung, Taiwan
2005 Gold 46 AIBA Women’s World Championships Podolsk, Russia
2006 Gold 46 AIBA Women’s World Championships New Delhi, India
2006 Gold 46 Venus Women’s Box Cup Vejle, Denmark
2008 Gold 46 AIBA Women’s World Championships Ningbo, China
2008 Silver 46 Asian Women’s Championships Guwahati, India
2009 Gold 46 Asian Indoor Games Hanoi, Vietnam
2010 Gold 48 AIBA Women’s World Championships Bridgetown, Barbados
2010 Gold 46 Asian Women’s Championships Astana, Kazakhstan
2010 Bronze 51 Asian Games Guangzhou, China
2011 Gold 48 Asian Women’s Cup Haikou, China
2012 Gold 41 Asian Women’s Championships Ulan Bator, Mongolia
2012 Bronze 51 Summer Olympics London, United Kingdom
2014 Gold 51 Asian Games Incheon, South Korea
2017 Gold 48 Asian Women’s Championships Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
2018 Gold 45-48 Commonwealth Games Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia
2018 Gold 45-48 AIBA Women’s World Championships New Delhi, India

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