The life of Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom, known commonly as Mary Kom, has been no less than a fairy tale. Born to a poor family in the villages of Manipur, Mary dared to punch her way into international limelight and remain there as the undisputed Mistress of the Ring.
Mary overcame hardship and inconveniences and created a name for herself in the arena of world boxing. Her parents earned their livelihood by working and being engaged in others jhum fields (a form of slash and burn cultivation practiced by tribals in North-East India). Being the eldest, Mary helped her parents work in the fields, cutting woods, making charcoal and fishing.
Mary was interested in sports since her childhood. She took a keen interest in athletics when she was in school. Mary thought that she would become a good athlete one day and carve a name for herself in the discipline. But fate decided otherwise. After completing her class VIII, Mary came to Imphal and continued her studies there. Being so fond of sports, she enquired around and found out about women boxing.
It was a new idea since women boxers were relatively less known those days. The rise of Dingko Singh (another Indian Boxer to win gold medal in Asian Games and hailing from Manipur) and the demonstration of women boxers at the 5th National Games (Manipur) inspired her.
Mary Kom decided to hang up her books and enter into the ring with determination and strong will. To pursue her dream of becoming a world class pugilist, she joined Sports Authority of India, Khuman Lampak in Manipur and underwent an intensive training from coach and mentor, Ibomcha Singh.
Seeing Mary’s potential and determination, Manipur State coaches Narjit Singh and Kishan Singh decided to take her under their wings. Mary was taught finer details and absorbed it all. The encouragement and the infrastructure support from the Manipur Boxing Association was also a turning point for Mary Kom.
All these training and support paved her way towards winning the first World Women Boxing Championship, 2001 in US. Since then there has been no looking back for her. She is the only boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six World Championships. On 3 October 2010 she had the honour of bearing the Queen’s Baton in the Opening Ceremony run for the 2010 Commonwealth Games at Delhi. She is a recipient of the Arjuna Award, the Padma Shri Award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and a special award from the International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA).
Manipur Government felicitated her by giving different posts in the State machinery and currently she is holding the post of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP). She was also given a house at National Games Village without any cost for her outstanding achievements.
Today, the farmer’s daughter stands as a shining example of “Mission (almost) Accomplished”. Many village girls idolize her and dream of being boxing champions. They come from remote places to join the MC Mary Kom Boxing Academy in the picturesque Langol foothills in Imphal West district.
India is very proud to have such women of grit and will. We hope Mary gets her most awaited Gold-medal at the London 2012 Olympics. Best of Luck Mary!!