India’s first Olympic medal-winning boxer Vijender Singh has picked MC Mary Kom as his favourite from the current Indian boxing contingent, which recently had a successful outing at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in Jordan’s Amman.
Six-time World Champion and a 2012 Olympic bronze medalist, Mary Kom defeated Philippines’ Irish Magno in her quarter-final bout of the Asian qualifiers to seal her berth at the 2020 Olympics in the flyweight (51kg) category, before eventually losing in the semi-final to China’s Chang Yuan.
As many as nine Indian boxers qualified for the 2020 Olympics after the qualifiers in Amman, but Vijender Singh had special praise for one.
“My favourite amongst the current boxers is Mary Kom,” Vijender Singh told the Olympic Channel. “I am in awe of her dedication and will power.
“She is an inspiration to billions of people. She has three kids and she is still fighting,” he said of the 37-year-old.
“I have two kids and I am very aware of the pressure of parenthood. At her age, her consistency is also remarkable,” added the 2008 Olympic bronze medalist.
Becoming the perfect idol
Winning the bronze medal in Beijing made Vijender Singh a household name and he further cemented his legendary stature by winning a gold medal at the 2010 Asian Games and a silver at the 2016 Commonwealth Games amongst other achievements.
One of the many millennials who took inspiration from the Haryana boxer is former junior world champion Sakshi Chaudhary, who represented India at the Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers in the women’s featherweight (57kg) category.
Vijender Singh, who has now moved on to having a successful professional boxing career, is cautious about the example he is setting.
“I feel more pressure on myself that I still have a lot to do. I feel responsible for the young boxers who think of me as their idol,” said the 34-year-old.
“I am always careful about not committing mistakes in my social and public life and am careful about one day stop becoming their idol,” he admitted.
What next for Indian boxers
The Asian boxing Olympic qualifiers saw nine of the 13 boxers from India qualify for the 2020 Olympics, which is the country’s largest boxing contingent in their Olympics history.
However, there may yet be more boxers joining them, with the likes of Naman Tanwar, Gaurav Solanki, Sachin Kumar and Sakshi Chaudhary still hoping to have another opportunity to qualify at the World qualifiers in Paris.