“நிமிர்ந்த நன்னடை நேர்கொண்ட பார்வையும்
நிலத்தில் யார்க்கும் அஞ்சாது நெறிகளும்
திமிர்ந்த ஞானச் செருக்கும் இருப்பதால்
செம்மை மாதர் திறம்புவ தில்லையாம்…..”
This is excerpt from “Modern Women” poetry by the great Indian poet Subramanya Bharathi . He is telling women to; walk erect looking straight, be bold and courageous, look fearlessly in eye’s, have will power and wisdom, stand toe to toe with men in rights, have elegance, bring pride from all corners to nation, not to live within walls of home and etc.,
I don’t think in anyway i can better introduce Mary Kom than what my great poet Bharathi words did. Mary Kom resembles to each and every phrase of how Bharathi dreamed and wrote in his Modern Women (Pudhumei penn) poetry. I don’t know whether Mary Kom even knows about him but she will be very proud knowing it.
Mangte Chungneijang Merykom, popularly known as MC Mary Kom was born on 1st march 1983 in Kangathei village of Manipur, India. Her parents are Tonpa Kom and Akham Kom. She was the eldest in the family with two younger sisters and a brother. She got married to K. Onler Kom on 2005 and became a mother to beautiful twin sons on 2007.
Mary Kom had won many titles to her credit but some are worth mentioning since they are untouchable. She won five successive gold medals at World Women Boxing Championship ( 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010), three gold medals at Asian Women Boxing Championship and, a goal medal at 1st World Women Boxing Tournament (Norway) and Vijle Women BOX Tournament (Denmark ). She also received Arjuna Award (2003), Padma Shri (2006) and India’s highest sporting honour of Khel Ratna Award (2009) for her excellence in sports. In 2008, AIBA gave her the title ‘Magnificent’ Mary for her achievements in boxing.
Mary Kom has qualified for London Olympics 2012 in 51kg category boxing event.
Beating the Poverty
When Mary Kom took sports, her aim is not to win championships but use it to eradicate her poverty. She thought success in sports is the solution for her to solve the poor financial situation. She took active interest in all sports but when Dinko Singh won Gold in 1998 Asian Games, it inspired her to take up boxing. Also it was for first time women included in boxing and many new academics were set up across Manipur.
But the game didn’t accepted her immediately. Kom had to convince the coach Ibomcha Singh to train her first and hide her dream from family to avoid any protest. Mary Kom further elaborates her struggle and motivation, “There are so many rules in society about what a woman can or cannot do. Boxing is not considered respectable for women and nobody believed I could be a boxing champion, not even my friends. Our neighbours said all kinds of things. I wanted to show that not just men, but even women can do anything they want, “.
She added, “Initially, I didn’t tell my family, because boxing is a very tough sport. And after my father saw my photo in the paper [after she won the 2000 state championships], he really scolded me,He didn’t want me to continue, he thought it would be difficult for me to get married.”
But even after convincing her coach and father, Mary Kom didn’t had her way easily. Next hurdle came in the name of money for her. Her coach, I Singh recalls, “I remember a little girl with a torn tracksuit and creased clothes, but she was a little girl with amazing will power.” She didn’t have enough money to buy good gloves or shoes yet she won world championship title in 2002.
Struggle in her every stride
If you are determined to endure great pains, then you are destined to great success. Mary Kom is one of the best examples because she took more than just blows in her face from opponents on her milky way.
Mary Kom lost all her luggage (along with passport) when she went to attend the selection camp of 1st Asian Women’s Boxing Championships (AWBC) by train. Father asked her to come back but she owed not to. After battling with fate, she went to Bangkok where she won the silver medal at the age of 17.
Thereafter going through so much trouble in her life, god gave her beautiful gift in the form of twin sons in the year 2007. Even for that priceless gift, her body needed a caesarean operation. After that, family persisted her to quit boxing. She is adamant until a terrible tragedy happened. Mary Kom’s father-in-law was gunned down by some unidentified local gunmen and her determination finally got shattered as she quit boxing.
When it seems all done, a great opportunity called her back. Women boxing got introduced in Asian games and later in 2012 Olympics. This motivated her to put the gloves back in the hands and start punching her hurdles again.
Mary Kom came back to win gold medal in her first tournament (Asian cup) itself after two years of no boxing. This is by far her toughest battle not just physically but mentally also. When she was battling in ring for India, her 4yr old son was undergoing the heart surgery at Delhi. Her husband stayed behind in India to take care of the son and let Mary Kom go to fight her bout in Asian cup. These are the moments that defined and differentiated her.
She won two more world titles after that which left the world gasping with no words to her will and determination power.
I’m an Indian
Manipur is located at far east in our nation where the daily life runs around continuous police patrol and violence between several local gangs. You never knew when the violence will erupt and the gun firing opens. Almost every day there are bomb blasts, kidnappings and killings.
“Every time I go away or go abroad for competitions, I am worrying is my family ok? Are my kids safe?” Mary Kom explains her family concerns. But if that’s not enough, then her physical features gave different but even more painful blow to her heart.
In an Interview to BBC when she went to take part in test event of Olympics, “Our taxi driver was Indian. And when I said we were also Indian he stared at us in his mirror and said no you’re not, you’re Chinese!“. She further added how much Manipur is under developed through a statement that can make even the strongest heart to melt. When BBC celebrated her 30th birthday with cakes, chocolates and ice creams, Mary said “Imagine how happy my kids would be with these!“.
When a reporter quizzed about her lack of sponsors and poor financial status even after winning so many titles, Mary Kom replied “May be we don’t like Indians“. Imagine how much pain she had in her heart to say something like that.
MC Mary Kom Boxing Academy
Mary Kom wanted others in Manipur to follow her foot steps to beat poverty. So through every penny she earned by winning titles and awards, Mary Kom set up an Academy which is free for anyone who is willing to become boxer. She shelters the girls who joined the academy in her house and arranged a lodge for boys to stay. Her academy may not be rich in facilities but it is rich in its principles.
When i last read about her academy, there were more than 20 students training in her Academy. If you have will and determination to become a boxer, then Mary Kom Academy doors are waiting to embrace you.
Like any other sportsperson, Mary Kom also has dreams of standing in the podium at Olympics. Even after winning so many world titles, she is eager for Olympic medal not just because it puts her in the spot light but also it will put her state Manipur in the spot light for Indian government and people to see. Thereby she hopes things in Manipur changes for better and may peace arrives.
Come August whatever happens in Olympics, Mary Kom will and must go down as the one of the best sportsperson India has ever produced. For all the hardwork and sacrifice she did to bring pride to our nation, we all can least do is to embrace her success and give full support to her. May be a standing ovation when she walks out to fight in Olympics even in front of TV at home is very much appreciated.
‘Magnificent’ Mary is truly a Magnificent!
*The quotes of Mary Kom used in this article were taken from various interviews she gave.