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Mary Kom gets gold at the Asian Games


Copyright: AFP/Getty images

Boxer Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom or Mary Kom, as she is popularly known, has become the first Indian woman boxer to win a gold at the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Two years ago during the London Olympics, she spoke to Women Talk Online about her dreams and the trials she went through to achieve them.

Mary has a dream. “To win the gold medal”, says the lady from the northeast Indian state of Manipur. The road to victory was not easy for her. Mary had to fight odds in her remote Manipuri village, Moirang. In her childhood days, Mary’s family had to fight even for the basics, let alone the luxuries.  She used to help her farmer father Mangte Tonpa Kom and mother Mangte Akham by helping them in the fields, cutting woods and fishing.

Sport was perhaps the only entertainment for her. And like other kids in the village she began with running cross country races. Old timers still recall the grit of a little girl in a torn tracksuit at the Loktak Christian Mission School in Moirang.

Not just for boys


Bollywood has attempted to pay homage to the boxing star by making a film on her life. The film “Mary Kom” stars Priyanka Chopra as the boxer.

Gradually Mary shifted to boxing even as she faced a volley of not-so-pleasant comments from local boys. “They thought boxing was only for boys,” recalls the five-time world champion.

“When I saw Asian champion Dingko Singh, I was hooked to boxing,” says Mary Kom in between punching text messages on her recently acquired Samsung galaxy mobile phone. Dropping out of school for full time boxing training, Mary gradually blossomed into a top flight boxer. During a competition trip to Delhi in 2005, she met Onler Kom, a fellow Manipuri. “Perhaps it was love at first sight,” she says and two wed in 2005.

Onler came as a messiah in her life, taking care of all his problems as she made rapid progress by the day.

Even as she was racing towards stardom troubles were tagging along at an even faster pace. Political unrest in her home town made life tough. Power cuts occurred very often and road blockages deprived Manipur of gas, food, medicine, petrol and just about every thing else.

God will take care of us

Amid all this, Onler’s father was also killed by some protesters. “It was a horrible time for us,” recalls Mary. Two years later she delivered twin boys.  It was Onler who took up the role of homemaker, leaving Mary to hone her punches for the bigger scalps in the ring.

All the fame and money that Mary now has cannot make up for a rather fractured family life: “I am away from home for long stretches for training and competition and I miss my sons Reng Pa and Nai Nai,” she says. Her main worry is that while gets goodies in life all over the world, her boys are still deprived in troubled Manipur. “They don’t get even ice cream there,” she says with a lump in her throat. But a devout Baptist, Mary hopes life will change. “Jesus will take care of us,” she says with total conviction.

During the pre-Olympic competition in London, Mary was at a sports goods shop, looking for a waterproof jacket. She tried a quite a few of them rejecting all one by one. The salesman was a bit irritated. Finally Mary tried one in front of the mirror and began shadow boxing. It was then that it dawned on the salesman that she was no ordinary buyer, but a future Olympic champion.

Author: Norris Pritam

Editor: Manasi Gopalakrishnan


01.10.2014 | 13:01