No, she hasn’t seen Clint Eastwood’s Oscar-winning film, though it is on the list of movies she wants to watch some day. But MC Mary Kom’s own life story has the grit and glory that can make for a wonderful movie. She’s amenable to the idea, she says, before adding, “Provided I have control over the overall content”.
For the moment, India’s first woman boxer, who has won nine national championships and four World Titles consecutively, is the subject of a BBC documentary, which is currently being shot in Bhopal, for the 2010 Summer Olympics in London. Olympian gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra is the other such subject.
Her reign in what is predominantly a man’s sport has not been easy. She admits that, earlier, many scoffed at her attempts to enter the ring. “Today, that has reduced considerably. In the North- East, I am looked up to as a role model. Fathers see their daughters following in my footsteps. This change in attitude makes me really happy. The biggest hurdle I have been fighting all these years is the mindset that says boxing is a man’s sport,” asserts the champ.
Bring up the question of male discrimination and she frowns, “I’m not sure what you mean by that.” Despite being denied a national honour because Milkha Singh didn’t know which sport she played or receiving the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna as an afterthought or never being adjudged Sportsmen of the Year, despite her consistent run, she retorts that she was upset about these actions a long time ago.
“But with introspection I have realised that inner peace does not come from these honours, but from reaching your goals and remaining honest to yourself,” she insists. “Don’t get me wrong, it is a matter of immense pride for any athlete to be honoured by the government. And I am thrilled to have been the recipient of the Arjuna Award, the Padma Shri and the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna. But if other honours have eluded me, I have learnt to shrug off the past and move on to the next set of goals. The competition will be tough, but with God’s grace, I hope to win the Olympic gold that I have been dreaming about for a long time. Sadly, women’s boxing has not been included in the Commonwealth Games, but I am confident of a good showing in the Asian Games.”