Here is the real life story of a world champion boxer that looks nothing less than a fairy tale. But while the circumstances of a fairy tale are twisted and turned by the will of the writer, this story has been written by the girl herself who remained determined to achieve her goal in spite of all the trials and tribulations that life had to offer her. Do read and find out yourself how a living legend in the world of boxing was born from a tiny village in India and how she broke all traditions surrounding a women’s role in the society to become an international champion and an inspiration.
Mary Kom hails from a remote village of India who like other children born to poor families, was destined to shoulder the burden of her parents and look after her younger siblings while they toiled in the fields. The end of the tale for this young girl could have been the usual – early marriage, kids and the successive rituals of a lifetime of cooking, caring and struggling to earn daily bread and butter. But the usual sob story did not happen in this case. The girl in fact became a symbol of perseverance, magnanimous self-confidence and a quaint village lass who turned into the fiery Five times World Champion Boxer fondly known as ‘Magnificent Mary’.
When Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom (M.C.Mary Kom) was born to Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom on 1st March 1983, her family had neither the means nor the wish to turn her into a world renowned boxer. Their legacy to her was to forget her childhood as hastily as possible and help them with cutting fire wood, fishing, farming and taking care of her two younger sisters and brother. Mary at her level performed these tasks dutifully, everyday, 365 days a year until one day at school she discovered a new found joy for sports activities especially athletics.
Even then her interest was more to aid her family. She considered that excelling in sports could give her family some additional financial support and to do just that she started training as an athlete. She practised hard and would have surely made a name in track and field events if not for Dinko Singh, another sportsperson from North East who had achieved extraordinary feat in the world of boxing. He was a boy from a similar background and when he could do it, why couldn’t she?
Dinko Singh’s success was all the motivation that was needed by Mary to enter the boxing world. She began her training in 2000 and was keen to learn the moves and train as hard as the men around her. Mary initially did not have the courage to tell her father of her rising status in Boxing. She knew his traditional values will not allow her to take up a sports that definitely required stupendous amount of hard work, was laden with injuries and not in any way a feminine game. But boxing had found its destiny child and in the same year she became the State Boxing Champion. With her photo published in daily’s, it was now impossible to hide from her family, the life she had thereby chosen.
Mary knew then that she needed to devote her full time to boxing and to do just that she enrolled into the Sports Authority of India, Khuman Lampak and underwent an intensive training from coach and mentor, Ibomcha Singh. Seeing her spark several officials of the state and sports association of Manipur, offered their help and taught her the nitty- gritty of the boxing world.
Marry kept improving, kept winning accolades in one event after the other. After winning her first title of Best Boxer at the First State Level Invitation women’s boxing championship in Manipur in 2000, she went on to win the gold in the Seventh East India Women’s Boxing Championship held in West Bengal.
First International Event and a Shock
In 2003 Mary Kom was asked to attend her first international event – The Asian boxing championship selection camp to be held at Bangkok. A 20 year old Mary was leaving her village, her town and her country for the first time to begin another phase of her life, but disaster struck at this pivotal point. At the airport, her luggage and passport got stolen. Mary’s parents insisted she return to her hometown and forget the championship.
But did she turn back? Did she lose all hope at such a crucial moment of her life? Find out in the next part of the post.