This piece was published in Sportskeeda
MC Mary Kom is a near-perfect example of an athlete keeping one’s feet firmly planted on the ground. The struggles, hardships she has endured over the years hailing from an economically-disadvantaged family in the Northeastern state of Manipur steeled her so much so that she has learnt to handle ‘success’ with poise and nonchalance.
The iconic Indian women’s boxer opens up in an exclusive interview.
How disappointed are you at missing the World Championships?
I’m disappointed to miss the World Championship as I’m not fully fit. I have sustained a hand and leg injury which prevented me from being available for national selection. Even at the Incheon Asian Games, I was carrying a few niggles, but took it in my stride as I was determined to win a medal for my country.
Will India fare well in your absence?
It is difficult to say how many medals we can win but I wish all the team members the very best. Manipur’s Sarjubala Devi is also there and I hope she delivers.
You have practically won everything except for the Olympic gold. Will your training now be focused towards achieving that?
A gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics is what I’m looking for. I have to pace my training in such a way that I’m at my best in Rio and when I’m in form no opponent can come in my way. Gold will be the ultimate thing for me,” she gushes.
Did the bronze medal at the London Olympics put you at the centre stage in Indian sports?
I agree that my Olympic feat created a mass hysteria. Corporate houses came forward with endorsements coupled with munificent government support. Youngsters taking up boxing will get a lot of encouragement to do something for the country seeing my laurels.
Any comments on the recent situation surrounding your friend Sarita Devi?
We both are good friends, but I don’t wish to say anything on Sarita; every time I comment on her people react negatively and so I want to steer clear of offering any comments.
The movie Mary Kom achieved huge success across India. How upsetting is it that the movie could not be shown in your home state due to the ban on Hindi films?
Obviously, I’m feeling sad over it as I can do little about it. It would have been nice for people in my home state to see this move in theatres, but you cannot help it.
Do you feel that you deserved to win your 2009 controversial bout against Pinki Jangra in the quarters of the Senior National Boxing Championships?
To be honest, I never lost that bout. I was angry because I thought I deserve to win that bout, but my reaction was in the heat of the moment and I have moved on.
How important has the support of your husband been in your boxing journey?
He has been a big factor behind my boxing success. Without his support I don’t think I would have able to achieve so much success in the ring. I feel proud to have him as my husband.
Q Tell us a bit about the Mary Kom Regional Boxing Academy?
The state government has provided her 3.30 acres of land and the Sports Ministry has offered funds worth Rs 4 crore to upgrade the infrastructure at the academy, which is located adjacent to her Langol games village residence in Imphal West. The academy was established in the 2006 with focus on underprivileged potentials. It provides free training and boarding and lodging to its wards. Construction work is on and we will have everything ready by early next year. Once completed, our academy will have separate hostels for boys and girls, an indoor hall having a world-class gym as well as a boxing ring.
Q What do you aspire once you retire from the sport?
I’m not able to devote much time towards training my academy wards as I’m still playing and has to be busy with training and competitions. Of course, I will eke out more time for my wards once I retire. My dream is to produce thousand Mary Koms.