HindustanTimes Mon,29 Dec 2014
Against all odds? So be it...
Sukhwant Basra, Hindustan Times
London, August 07, 2012
First Published: 00:46 IST(7/8/2012)
Last Updated: 02:44 IST(7/8/2012)
MC Mary Kom is declared the winner over Maroua Rahali of Tunisia after their quarterfinal Women's Fly (51kg) boxing match at the London Olympic Games. Reuters photo/Murad Sezer

These are women you would not want to meet in the dark. Forget your intentions, what if hers are not gentle?

Maroua Rahali of Tunisia met MC Mary Kom under the brightest of lights. She certainly can’t be blamed not to be too enthused about a meeting again soon.

The woman from Manipur is four inches shorter than the 5’6” Tunisian and does not have the benefit of reach. She makes up for that with sheer ferocity tempered with a street fighter’s cunningness.

Intelligent strategy
Mary Kom darted in only after Rahali’s flailing jabs would have been ducked past. Many a time she used a right-left combination that would see the taller opponent weave out of the way of the right only to find she had been set up for the hook from the left.

Mary bided her time sussing out her opponent in the first two rounds. She had a marginal 5:3 lead midway into the bout — that’s just two punches ahead. With 48 seconds to go in the third round, Mary let loose a flurry. Few seconds later she slammed home again to end the round ahead 11:4.

The Tunisian was a kick-boxer in her formative years but on Monday she certainly had all the boxing kicked out of her.

Assured of a medal
The 15:6 overwhelmingly one-sided verdict assured Mary of at least a bronze. In the introductory Olympics in women’s boxing, like in the men’s, all athletes reaching the semifinals are certain of a medal with two bronze being given out in each weight category. There are four rounds of two minutes each interspersed with three minute-long breaks. Boxers end up sweating out close to 2kg of body weight. Boxing is one of the most physically demanding sports as the action is unforgivingly rapid all through the bout.

All you ladies sprawled in your armchairs reading this, try raising your arms up and punching the air for a minute at a stretch. The next minute try doing it weaving about and bobbing like a yo-yo. Now multiply that effort by four. Why the ladies alone, bet more than 99% of the men reading this can't manage it.

We haven’t even yet come to the part where there is another punch machine in the ring with you that would like nothing better but to smash your face in. Your correspondent is feeling tired just typing this out, forget actuating it.

When Mary came to the post-match press interaction, her shoulders and forearms were bruised from the encounter; her cheeks flushed red from the pounding.

This is a mother of two who is so sweet and cute outside the arena that one wonders where that aggro comes from.

Not easy
She next runs into British Nicola Adams who was devastating in her 16:7 rout of Petrova Stoyka in the quarters. It’s not going to be easy for Mary Kom as Adams is far tougher and quicker than her opponents so far.

Further, she is a bigger girl who has stepped down a weight (from 54 to the present 51) while Mary has moved up from 48. But then the Mary Kom story has all along been that of struggle against the odds.

She won’t give up in a hurry.

Mary Kom in semis video-icon | Magnificent Mary video-icon | Podcast: Mary Kom speaks after victory | Mary says

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Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
England 58 59 57 174
Australia 49 42 46 137
Canada 32 16 34 82
Scotland 19 15 19 53
India 15 30 19 64
New Zealand 14 14 17 45
South Africa 13 10 17 40
Nigeria 11 11 14 36
Kenya 10 10 5 25
Jamaica 10 4 8 22
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