There had to be one successful story if Indians were to survive in sports and we have that story now. Enough has been said about this great warrior who conquered the world. This warrior is none other than Mary Mangte Kom-the Komqueror and the Komrade. She is famed as a five times World Boxing Champion and the only boxer to win a medal in every one of the six world championships. In the 2012 Olympics, she became the first Indian woman boxer to qualify and win a bronze medal in the 51 kg flyweight category of Boxing.
Kom was born in Kangthei village, Moirang Lamkhai in Churachandpur district of rural Manipur in eastern India. She came from a poor family. Her parents, Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom were tenant farmers who worked in jhum fields. Kom grew up in humble surroundings, helping her parents with farm related chores, going to school and learning athletics initially and later boxing simultaneously. Her father was a keen wrestler in his younger age.
She had an eager interest in athletics since childhood and the success of Dingko Singh a fellow Manipuri returned from the 1998 Bangkok Asian games with a gold medal, Kom recollects, had inspired many youngsters in Manipur to try boxing and she too thought of giving it a try.
Mary Kom’s career started in 2000 after her victory in the Manipur State women’s boxing championship and the regional championship in West Bengal. In 2001, she started competing at international level. She was only 18 years old when she made her international debut at the first AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in United States, winning a silver medal in the 48 kg weight category. Her greatness is reinforced by the way she apoligized to the whole nation for not being able to win the Gold. She is a legend for sure and an idol for all the sportswomen to look up to.
In an exclusive interview with Sportskeeda correspondent Taruka Srivastava, Olympic Bronze medalist Mary Kom talked about her preparation for the Olympics and her elation at winning a medal.
Interviewer : First things first-you’re the first Indian female boxer to win an Olympics medal for India. Has the feeling completely sunk in?
Mary Kom : I am really happy with my achievement and yes it is yet to sink in. I am just so exhilarated.
Interviewer : You were the only female representative from India in boxing. Did that put additional pressure on you?
Mary Kom : No, not at all. I was pretty confident about myself. I knew.
Interviewer : Your coach Charles Atkinson was not allowed to accompany you to the Olympics. How did that affect your preparations ?
Mary Kom : Well I did miss him there but thankfully, we had already done our homework and I was well prepared.
Interviewer : During your preparations for the Olympics, you sparred with the male boxers of the Indian contigent. Who was your favourite sparring partner ?
Mary Kom : (Laughs) Well, I trained hard in Pune and the male boxers were kind enough to practise with me whenever I required them. To name a favourite would be unfair.
Interviewer : You were quoted saying “Adams was very clever, a counter- puncher but, although she carried power, she wasn’t very tactical. I was scoring but the judges were not pressing the buttons.” Do you think dodgy judging was part of the reason for your loss in the semi-finals?
Mary Kom : Yes, I think some of the decisions were unfortunate and did not work to my benefit.
Interviewer : India managed just 6 medals in the 2012 Olympics even though we are a nation of 1.3 billion people. Where do you think a change is
required to help us win medals that are proportionate with our population?
Mary Kom : I think more and more people should take up sports as a full-time career if we want more gold medals. More corporates should come in and sponsor players so that the players don’t have any financial pressure and can just focus on their games.
Interviewer : Do you think interest in boxing in India will ever go beyond the Olympics ?
Mary Kom : Yes, I am sure that in a few years boxing will be very popular among everyone in India, all the year round.
Interviewer : How aware are Indian women of their nutritional requirements ? Diet and nutrition must’ve been a key factor in your conditioning for the Olympics. Do you think nutrition is a neglected area in Indian sports ?
Mary Kom : The awareness is growing now among the female athletes when it comes to nutritional requirements. Nutrition has definitely been a neglected area in Indian sports. I had to gain 3 kgs since I had to fight in the 51kg event instead of the usual 48kgs that I fight in. So I had to focus on what to eat. I gained weight by eating the right kind of healthy food rather than bad saturated fats.
Interviewer : How big a role did OGQ play in shaping the boxing scene in India for the better ?
Mary Kom : OGQ really played an important part in my success. They helped me out whenever I needed something. They took care of everything, which helped me focus on my boxing and kept me stress-free.
Interviewer : What’s your opinion on the future of Indian boxing ?
Mary Kom : The future is very bright and I am sure many more boxers will get medals for us.
Interviewer : Do you find it difficult to convince your children not to fight when they watch you go out and do it in style all the time ?
Mary Kom : Well, I have twins and yes, sometimes it becomes really difficult to keep them under control. l corporates : companies or industries l sponsor : organization that pays or aids sportsmen or a sport event l conditioning : becoming fit l saturated fats : unhealthy fats l OGQ : Olympic Gold Quest ö What did OGQ do for Mary Kom? ö How did Mary Kom increase her weight ? l stereotype : fixed ideas held as common standards ö What is Mary Kom more proud of- being a boxer or a mother ?
Interviewer : Will you train your kids to become boxers as well ?
Mary Kom : I haven’t really thought about it. As of now, just let their mother box !
Interviewer : You have broken several stereotypes about the women in India by showing that women can compete with men in any field. But how good are you at the ‘traditional’ feminine activities like cooking?
Mary Kom : Well, I am good at cooking and other household work too.
Interviewer : Would you be interested in coaching Indian women in boxing one day?
Mary Kom : Let’s see. In the future, may be yes.
Interviewer : What do you prefer being called -Super Mom or Super Boxer ?
Mary Kom : I love being a mom. That’s the best thing that has ever happened to me.