First international loss in two years
Adjusting to a higher weight category was no big deal for M C Mary Kom but what stumped the five-time world champion Indian woman boxer at the Asian Games was the 'never-seen-before fouls' and she plans to take tips from Suranjoy Singh to deal with them in future.
The Manipuri mother-of-two, who is a Khel Ratna awardee settled for a bronze medal after suffering her first international loss in two years in Guangzhou (China).
The 27-year-old fought in the 51kg category, one of the three divisions in women's boxing that were included in the Games' roster after getting the Olympic nod a significant jump from the 46kg and 48kg divisions she had been competing in previously.
"Adjusting to the weight was not at all a problem because I weigh around 51kg normally. What took me by surprise were the tactics. My opponents would hold me and then use the shoulder to hit me on the chin, something that would escape the referee's eye but when I would try to break free, it would seem that I am using my elbow to hit them and the referee would caution me," Mary Kom said in an interview.
"I lost stamina while dealing with these tactics and that reflected. But I am happy with how I have performed. It's not a gold but it is still a medal that I would cherish," Mary Kom, who lost to reigning 51kg world champion Ren Cancan of China, said.
"And I would like to state that I did not lose because of fighting in a new weight category. It's a sport and wins and losses are a part and parcel of the game. I have learnt my lessons and I would prove myself in future," she added.
Image: MC Mary Kom
'I will take tips from Suranjoy'
To deal with the new defensive tactics, Mary Kom plans to take a few tips from star male boxer and fellow Manipuri Suranjoy, who incidentally also returned with a bronze from the Asian Games, his first since 2009.
"Even before the semi-final bout, Suranjoy had taught me a few tricks to deal with holding and clinching in the ring but what I actually saw and experienced took me by surprise. I will take tips from him and learn to deal with these tactics better," she said.
Image: Suranjoy SIngh
'A new coach should come and the training should be changed'
But more than Suranjoy's tips, Mary Kom wants an all-new coaching staff to take over with a foreigner in the team to bring fresh ideas.
The Indian team is currently coached by Anoop Kumar while the Indian Boxing Federation is still looking for the foreign coach.
"In the camp, we are never taught about how to deal with the kind of tactics that I saw in Guangzhou. It's the same routine that we have been following. It gets boring now.
"I think a new coach should come and the training should be changed so that we are in tune with the latest in the sport. A foreign coach should also be hired so that fresh ideas come in," she opined.
Mary Kom, dubbed 'Magnificent Mary' by the International Boxing Association for her unprecedented five world titles, said getting the men's and women's teams to train together would also come in handy.
"I think the camp should be the same because like I learn from Suranjoy, the others can also benefit by interacting with each other. There is no harm in trying. After all men's Cuban coach B I Fernandes also gives me tips sometimes and it helps," she said.
Image: Mary Kom