I don't fear anything except God: Mary Kom
Boxing champ Mary's secret to success lies in her unwavering dedication to boxing, and her belief that sports other than cricket are gaining recognition, slowly but surely.
Mangte Chungneijang Merykom aka Mary Kom is a legend in the boxing arena.
The Manipuri pugilist, also known as Magnificent Mary -- a title given to her by the International Boxing Association -- has been world boxing champion in the flyweight class for five successive years.
The Padma Shree and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awardee, did India proud by bagging a bronze medal at the London Olympics 2012, where women's boxing made its debut. Excerpts from an interview with the boxing champ:
What kind of a student were you?
At school, my favourite subject was social studies. I was a rank holder till Class 3. After that I concentrated on sports.
Were you always inclined towards sports?
I am blessed with a reasonable athletic talent and was an athlete in school. My first prize in sports was for a 100-metres race in 1993, when I was in Class 4.
A teacher you remember most...
Peter Mizo Sir, who taught English. He was serious and strict.
What made you choose boxing?
Watching boxer Dingko Singh's performance at the Asian Games, Bangkok where he won gold was the defining moment. I was 15 and enjoyed sports more than anything else. Singh's performance changed my life and inspired me to follow boxing.
What do you love about boxing?
Everything! I am swift by nature, and since the game demands it, I enjoy the sport.
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Image: Mary Kom celebrates after defeating Tunisia's Maroua Rahali in a women's flyweight 51-kg quarterfinal boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics
Photographs: AP Photo/Mike Groll
'I struggled a lot to come up to this level'
Tell us about your first bout.
It was in 2000. I was 17 and couldn't wait to compete in the ring before the spectators. I won the bout, and got a medal and a certificate.
How long do you train?
It varies from bout to bout and tournament to tournament. For the Olympics, I put in close to 10 hours every day, which included honing technical aspects, bouts and physical training to improve stamina and strength.
What is your typical day like?
I wake up at 6 am, get ready for the morning session from 7 am which goes on till noon. Then lunch and rest. Evening session is from 3 to 7 pm. Then I have dinner and rest. Before winding up for the day, I prefer to walk, jog or do light weights.
How tough was it to establish yourself on the international arena?
I struggled a lot to come up to this level but I also cherish the experience. It seems more difficult to maintain the status I have made in boxing, now.
Your tips to aspiring sportsmen?
If you are good at something, and especially, if people who matter tell you that you are good enough, you must follow that sport.
Financially, the landscape is changing for sport enthusiasts as people are managing to make a reasonable living in sports other than cricket.
As time goes on, other sport disciplines too will find a larger share of the revenue pie, making it a lucrative career choice, even in the perspective of a reluctant parent.
Image: Mery Kom Hmangte, right, fights Tunisia's Maroua Rahali during a women's flyweight 51-kg quarterfinal boxing match
Photographs: AP Photo/Patrick Semansky