Asian Boxing Championships: How Mary Kom's determination and 'faith in God' helped her to overcome challenges
Not just in the ring. Mary had to fight her way outside the ring too. During her childhood days, Mary's family had to struggle even for the basics, let alone the luxuries.
A devout Christian brought up in a Baptist household, Mary Kom has often owed her success to Jesus. "It is all because of Him," she always claims. But she has never left things merely to the Almighty. In fact, her conviction and belief in God has pushed her to work hard and up her physical endurance to achieve things that otherwise may have been hard to get.
"This medal is very special to me just like all other medals I have won because it has its own story of struggles. Every medal I have won is a story of a difficult struggle. I am hoping this medal, which has come after I became an MP (Member of Parliament), will enhance my reputation even further. I hope my stature grows," Mary Kom said after winning an unprecedented fifth gold medal at the Asian Championship in Ho Chi Min City in Vietnam.
Not just in the ring. Mary had to fight her way outside the ring too. During her childhood days, Mary's family had to struggle even for the basics, let alone the luxuries. To supplement the family income, Mary used to help her farmer father Mangte Tonpa Kom and mother Mangte Akham by cutting the woods and fishing for the daily meals. In growing days Mary had no means for entertainment. Like most kids in her village, she simply ran around sometime in the forest. Even when she began taking part in cross country races, boys made fun of her.
"But it was my faith in God that kept me going," she says. Old timers in Manipur still recall the grit of a little girl in a torn tracksuit at the Loktak Christian Mission School in Moirang. Gradually, Mary shifted to boxing even as she faced a volley of not-so-pleasant comments from local boys. "They thought boxing was only for boys." It was during this period when she was fooling round the ring she saw Dingko Singh. "When I saw Asian champion Dingko, I was hooked to boxing," says Mary. Soon boxing became her passion and Mary dropped out of school.
Now it was time for full time boxing training. She gradually blossomed into a top flight boxer. During a competition trip to Delhi in 2005, she met Onler Kom, a fellow Manipuri. "Perhaps it was love at first sight," she says. And two were tied into a wedlock in 2005. Onler came as a messiah in her life, taking care of all her problems as she made rapid progress by the day.
But even when she had become the face of her state Manipur, troubles did not spare her. Political unrest in her home town made life tough. At times, most of the times there was no power at her home. Road blockages deprived Manipur of gas, food, medicine, petrol and just about every thing else. Amid all this, some protesters also killed Onler’s father. "It was a horrible time for us," recalls Mary. And then two years later she delivered twin boys. “It was a new challenge, but Onler emerged as a big help." It was Onler who took up the role of homemaker, leaving Mary to hone her punches for the bigger scalps in the ring.
Now a mother of three boys, Mary has her hands full. Besides aiming for greater accolades she is also running her boxing academy in Imphal. All this is not easy. As a MP, she attends Parliament regularly and still finds time to train. A government observer, she also attends meetings related to boxing. "I hope people realise how tough it is," she said. "I have been juggling so many roles. I am a mother too, I have three sons to take care of. I don't even know how I manage to pull it off sometimes."
All the fame and money Mary earned could not make up for a fractured family life. "I was away from home for long stretches for training and competition and missed my sons," she recalls. As a mother her worst moments were when her sons couldn’t even get ice cream in Manipur. Things are better now. They study in Delhi’s prestigious Modern School. She has new challenges now. "Jesus will take care of us," she says with total conviction. For someone who had to fight for everything in life, the ring seems a way of life. No wonder in Vietnam, her rivals did not come close to her. "It was all God’s way,’’ she says.
Even if all the remaining Indian boxers win medals, the will fall short of the total of nine with three each of gold, silver and bronze won in 2018.
Tyson Fury has now announced the intention to retire undefeated with a record of 32 wins and one draw from 33 bouts.
Vijender Singh will be back in the boxing ring on 17 August and not just with the aim to come back to winning ways but also to relaunch his bid for a world title bout.