Mary Kom wants more women to take up her fight
MC Mary Kom wants everyone to know that boxing is not just a man’s sport.
The ace Indian boxer grew up sparring with boys due to the dearth of girls in the ring during her formative years as the perception was that it was a sport meant just for men.
It’s a view that stayed on as she forged her career.
“This sport is a male dominated one. It is mostly considered a man’s sport,” she said during a video interaction for the Legends on Unacademy programme.
“So initially when I started boxing, it was very difficult. There would be one or two girls training apart from me so I had to train with boys.
“So all I want to say is that boxing is not a man's sport. If men can play, then why can’t women play,” Mary Kom asked the 25,000 students listening to her.
Mary Kom, who went on to clinch a bronze medal at the London 2012 Olympics, always dabbled in several sports during her childhood days despite hailing from a relatively conservative background.
“I just loved playing with the boys in my village because girls never played,” she said looking back.
“The situation in my childhood was totally different from what it is now, only boys would be playing outside.”
Part of a divine plan
When a young Mary Kom, inspired by fellow Manipur boxer Dingko Singh’s success at the 1998 Asian Games, decided to switch to boxing from athletics in 2000, women’s amateur boxing hardly had competitions beyond the national level.
While women’s amateur boxing was introduced at the continental and the world level in 2001, it took another decade for it to be included at the Summer Games in 2012.
But for Mary Kom, boxing was only a means to improve her livelihood.
“I was always interested in sports but I never really knew the role of sports and its benefits,” she said.
“So I had never imagined that I would be making a career like this,” the eight-time World Champion medallist continued. “Slowly I started understanding the benefits of sports, that if you do well in it, you get better job opportunities.
“If you excel in sports, you excel in life."
Twenty years down the line, the Manipur pugilist is the face of Indian boxing today.
She has won gold medals at the Asian Games, the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Women’s Boxing Championships, and the World Women’s Boxing Championship and has also been conferred with the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan awards.
And ahead of her final show at the Olympics in Tokyo, where she qualified through Asian boxing Qualifiers in March this year, the pugilist believes that her journey has all been a part of God’s plan.
“God chose me for sports I think,” she reasoned. “Because there can’t be any other reason that I would enter sports and end up spending my entire life in it.”