Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom is nothing less than a national treasure. The prominent boxer and Olympic bronze winner is more than just a sportswoman. By overcoming insurmountable hurdles ever since she delved into boxing, she has proved to be a hero, a fighter who never let hurdles slow her down and achieved impossible goals with will and hard work.
On Mary Kom’s birthday, we reminisce her struggles and her victory over them.
Growing Passion & An Unsupportive Family
MC Mary Kom, as she is popularly known, was interested in multiple sports since she was in school. It was not until Dingko Singh won Gold in the 1998 Asian Games that her interest in boxing took flight.
Belonging to a simple tribal community from the Kangathei Village of Manipur, pursuing a mostly male comprising sport was challenging. She had to beg and plead in order to get boxer Narjit Singh to train her without the knowledge of her conservative family.
She initially hid all her boxing indulgences from her family who found out only when she won the Manipur state boxing championship in 2000 and was featured in the local newspaper. Post this revelation, Mary faced huge backlash from her parents, especially her father, who told her she could forget about getting married with a bruised face and broken bones.
A Woman Torn
As Mary was headed towards the National Games in 2001, she was approached by K Onler Kom a man she would later fall in love and tie the knot with in 2005.
In 2007, she was blessed with twin sons, Rechungvar and Khupneivar. After the birth of her sons, Mary was determined to continue boxing but her family demanded more attention. After months of being torn between her family and her passion, Mary had to give up boxing post the killing of her father in law.
After a short hiatus, the driven woman started training again and won a silver medal at the 2008 Asian Women’s Boxing Championship in India. Further, she went on to achieve a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, becoming the first Indian woman to do so. This was her power packed return into the world of boxing. In 2013, she went on to have a third son, Prince, and had to take another break, but not for long. Mary Kom won her first gold medal in the 2014 Aisan Games.
Today, she is a five time world champion and Olympian who has been rightfully nicknamed ‘Magnificent Mary’. During her journey, she received multiple honors including Arjuna Award (Boxing) in 2003, Padma Shree (Sports) in 2006, Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, 2009 and much more.
A Literary, Cinematic & Political Asset
From not being recognized as an Indian due to her oriental looks to becoming a revered boxer and the pride of the nation, Mary Kom has captured it all in her autobiography – Unbreakable.
Bollywood picked up on Mary Kom’s amazing journey and she was given her own biopic starring Priyanka Chopra and produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Her life story did substantially well at the box office but was highly acclaimed by critics.
Furthering her dream of becoming an asset to the country, Mary turned to politics and took on the role of a Rajya Sabha MP in 2016. As a minister, she aspires to redress sports policies pertaining to women’s boxing.
Although she failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics, Mary continues to be an inspiration due to her strong will to succeed and her never say die attitude.
She has also established a fight club for women in Imphal where they can learn how to protect themselves and develop skills in the sport that changed Mary’s life.
It is due to the valiance of women such as Mary Kom that inspires millions of others to never give up on their dreams no matter what hurdles they might have to face. Happy Birthday, MC Mary Kom.