Women’s World Boxing Championship: Mary Kom beats Hanna Okhota to clinch record 6th gold medal
The last time Mary Kom reached the World Championships final was way back in 2010 and against an opponent like Steluta Duta of Romania, majority of the experts did not give her a chance. However, ‘Magnificent Mary’ was not bothered by the odds and she went on to win the gold comprehensively.
Eight years later, the situation was a bit different as the 35-year old started as the favourite when she faced Hannah Okhota - a boxer who was thirteen years younger than her - in the final of the AIBA Women’s World Championship. In front of a packed house at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, the veteran was on the verge of creating history and it was her grit and experience that ensured a sixth gold medal for her as she defeated her opponent by unanimous decision on Saturday.
Thanks to this win, she became the most successful boxer in the history of the tournament as she surpassed Katie Taylor’s tally of five gold medals and at present, she is tied with men’s six-time world champion Felix Savon of Cuba. With the 2020 Olympics less than two years away, this was a huge win for the 35-year old but she sounded concerned about moving to the 51kg category for the event. While she mainly fights in the 48kg category, that is not a part of the Asian Games or the Olympics and as a result, she was forced to fight in different categories for most of the major events.
“First of all, I would like to thank all my fans. Thank you guys, I don’t have anything to give you. What I can give you is a gold for the country. They came especially for me and the Indian contingent. Today, I was a little bit emotional because for the last few years, I was not able to fight in 48 kg category.
“I had to jump to other categories. The effort was very challenging for me. Because of your love and support, I hope to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. I wasn’t able to qualify for Rio Games. I am still suffering. I can easily get a gold in the 48 kg category, but 51 kg, it’s difficult because other boxers may have a height advantage,” a teary-eyed Mary Kom said after her hard-fought encounter.
In the first round, Okhota was aggressive from the very first punch and that allowed Kom to step back and rely more on her counter-attacks. Even as the Indian went for a customary touching of gloves after the bell, Okhota tried to land her first punch. With the Ukrainian boxer looking to score points quickly, Kom took a different approach and was able to land more punches by taking advantage of the openings. The second round followed a similar pattern with Okhota looking visibly frustrated and Kom looking for opportunities to score points by coming up with shorts jabs and combination punches.
In the third round, the Ukrainian grabbed the early advantage by landing couple of punches and at one point, it looked like Kom was looking to dodge instead of going for the kill. With one and a half minutes left on the clock, Okhota started taunting the veteran and that proved to be the motivation that Kom needed. What followed was an absolute masterclass from the Manipuri boxer as she dominated proceedings and in the end, it came as no surprise that she won by unanimous decision.
With the entire stadium chanting her name, Mary Kom was unable to stop her tears and at the post-match interview, she made it clear that the bronze medal she won in the 2012 London Olympics remains special to her, but the next goal is to win gold in the 2020 Games. “Winning the 2012 bronze medal was magnificent, but I would love to win a gold medal in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics,” she said.