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Mary Kom’s Asian boxing gold shows spirit is still high

Mary Kom has showed that there’s still life left in her illustrious boxing career with her gold medal at the Asian Boxing Championships

other sports Updated: Nov 08, 2017 22:06 IST
Mary Kom,MC Mary Kom,Asian Boxing Championships
Mary Kom celebrates after winning her fifth Asian Boxing Championship gold medal in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam on Wednesday.(PTI)

Sport is invariably cruel to athletes as they age, leaving them to deal with slowing reflexes, struggles to recover and the question whether they have stayed on for too long. Even those few who are an exemption to that rule face questions if they slip up once.

MC Mary Kom’s fifth Asian championships title was her response to all those doubts. The final against North Korea’s Kim Hyang-mi wasn’t a cakewalk as the two traded punches from the start, but the Indian’s experience made the difference in the end.

Women’s boxing was in its infancy when she took up the sport, inspired by Dingko Singh’s Asian Games triumph at Bangkok in 1998. In three years, the 18-year-old had landed her first medal, a silver, in the world meet. She went on to become a world champion five times to find a special place at the global level.

READ | Mary Kom calls Asian Boxing Championships gold ‘story of her struggle’

Mary Kom’s story was one of overcoming the odds, fighting hunger at home to initial parental disapproval and then making a mark in a sport that her family members were worried would leave marks on her face and make it difficult to find a husband.

By the time women’s boxing became a medal sport at the 2012 London Olympics, the sport had grown very competitive. And it was special that Mary Kom could finish with a bronze, having been forced to move up to 51 kg and then run into the classy British boxer Nicola Adams, the eventual winner.

Mary Kom was not done yet. She had opened a boxing centre in Manipur in 2006 that was growing, and her three children demanded her time, but retirement was far from her mind. Many felt it was time she hung up her gloves, but the Asian Games gold in 2014 encouraged her to make an attempt to qualify for Rio.

READ | Mary Kom wins Asian Boxing Championships gold, says ‘I’m not finished yet’

Though it proved unsuccessful, Mary Kom was confident her comeback this time would result in a “bigger medal”, as she said before the trip to Vietnam.

Wasn’t the Rajya Sabha membership time to give up boxing? She said: “But everything I have got is thanks to boxing. So, why will I leave it? I want to continue to box for a year or two. I want to show people – those who have a negative perception – and prove to those in every corner of the country. I don’t know whether I will be able to do (win medals) or not, but I am working hard,” she said in an interview before leaving for Ho Chi Minh City.

There will be fewer doubters at least for now.

First Published: Nov 08, 2017 21:23 IST