“People used to say that boxing is for men and not for women and I thought I will show them some day. I promised myself and I proved myself.” – Mary Kom.
We can’t agree enough! Mary Kom might have been denied a wild card entry to Rio Olympics this year but she will continue to reign in our hearts. Here are 6 reasons why we absolutely adore the boxing champ.
1. The Only Indian Female Boxer to Win Olympics Medal
Mary is the only Indian female boxer to have qualified for the 2012 Summer Olympics and brought home a bronze. That was a moment of pride for the nation. Nicknamed “Magnificent Mary”, Mary is a five-time World Amateur Boxing champion, and the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six world championships.
2. She fought the gender bias
Boxing was the all-time love for Mary! As a schoolgirl, she used to play hockey, football and other sports but not boxing which was considered a guy’s sport. The so called ‘masculine’ sport was not meant for girls who were thought to be too petite and delicate for the rough and tough fight. Mary Kom punched the gender bias by standing tall as a champion, leaving even her male counterparts behind.
3. A mother of three
Mary Kom has challenged every pre-conceived notion that a mother cannot be physically fit to fight all odds. Well, the truth is a mother’s strength is incomparable. With three cute sons – twins Rechungvar and Khupneivar, and Prince, Mary is definitely a supermom. She knows how to maintain a balance between her career and her family life.
In one of the instances, Mary showed her determination by winning gold in the Asian Cup women boxing tournament in China and then immediately rushing to a Chandigarh hospital to be with her three-and-a-half-year old son Khupneivar who had undergone a heart surgery.
4. A struggling early life
Born to poor parents who made their both ends meet by working at the fields in the village of Kangathel near Imphal, Mary Kom had a life of struggle. Her childhood was all about labouring in the paddy fields, household work, looking after livestock and carrying firewood. There were days when she and her family had nothing to eat. This was common for children in Manipur. Mary went to school but she couldn’t complete her studies and dropped out after Xth.
5. A heart of gold that extends compassion towards social causes
Charity is what Mary believes in. She had supported an initiative by sportswear brand Dida which was named ‘Box Out’, aimed at spreading awareness against social evils like sexual abuse and corruption.
Mary also became the voice of animals which are abused and tortured in circuses. In a PETA ad, Mary is seen in chains like how elephants are kept in circuses, next to the tagline “Elephants Belong in the Wild, Not in Chains.”
6. The foundation of the non-profit Mary Kom-SAI Boxing Academy
Talking about charity, Mary Kom has her own charitable trust known as Mary Kom-SAI Boxing Academy which aims at teaching boxing as a sport to the underprivileged youth in Manipur and other parts North East India for free. Since most Manipuri youngsters are from a poor financial background and have little knowledge about a career in sports, this academy will surely bridge the gap and lead the potential youth to a brighter sporting future.