A phe­nom called Mary Kom!

Sportstar - - READERS’ COLUMN - SAKSHAM MISHRA ■THE

Even if you had seen the 4■ kg cat­e­gory fi­nal clash of the Women’s Am­a­teur Box­ing World Cham­pi­onships at the K. D. Jad­hav in­door sta­dium in New Delhi, you might not have re­alised that there was an age dif­fer­ence of 13 years be­tween the two box­ers ply­ing their trade in the ring.

The one in blue was nim­ble on her feet and punched with con­sum­mate com­bi­na­tions of rights and lefts. The guard was on point and her agility was sec­ond to none. Her op­po­nent, Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota, tried to match her punch for punch, but the 22­yearold did not have am­ple ex­pe­ri­ence to trou­ble the wily Mary Kom. As it turned out, M. C. Mary Kom be­came the most suc­cess­ful pugilist in the history of the Women’s World Cham­pi­onships af­ter win­ning by a unan­i­mous 5­0 against Okhota. She broke her tie of five golds and one bronze with Ire­land’s Katie Tay­lor and equalled Cuban men’s leg­end Felix Savon along the way.

‘What keeps peo­ple go­ing?’ This is one ques­tion that has in­ter­ested philoso­phers over cen­turies. Is it the de­sire to be in the lime­light or to earn truck­loads of money? But what about those who al­ready have all of that and a lot more? What keeps them mo­ti­vated?

“I am not fin­ished yet,” was the res­o­nant an­swer by Chungnei­jang Hmangte a.k.a. M. C. Mary Kom af­ter she de­feated Korea’s Kim Hyang Mi 5­0 in Novem­ber 2017 to clinch her fifth gold in the Asian Women’s Box­ing Cham­pi­onships. This never say die at­ti­tude is at the core of Mary’s work ethics. And this is what has pre­vented her from hang­ing up her boots, or her gloves rather.

Mary Kom has achieved all that is there to be achieved in the world of box­ing. Her fight now is not for some medal or cham­pi­onship, it’s with her­self.

The 35­year­old has won the pres­ti­gious Ar­juna, Ra­jeev Gandhi Khel Ratna and Padma Bhushan awards. The feisty Ma­nipuri has also clinched the Asian Box­ing cham­pi­onship five times to go along with her six world cham­pi­onships and an Olympic bronze.

Mary Kom is the mother of three kids. She is also a Ra­jya Sabha MP now and one that at­tends ses­sions at that. She has a book writ­ten and a movie made on her. Yet, the pugilist isn’t some­one to rest on her lau­rels.

The Olympics doesn’t have a 4■ kg cat­e­gory. This is the rea­son why she failed to qual­ify for Rio. Mary would be 37 at the time of the Tokyo Olympics but she still wants to give it a shot (in the 51 kg).

“I am a lit­tle bit emo­tional to­day. There is no (4■ kg) weight cat­e­gory in the Olympic Games. Be­cause of your love and sup­port, I feel I will be able to qual­ify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Four years ago, I was not able to qual­ify for Rio. I am still suf­fer­ing from that.

“I know it will be a bit dif­fi­cult for me to win a gold in Tokyo as I will have to fight in 51 kg,” she tried to put her over­whelm­ing emo­tions into words af­ter the WC win.

Chungnei­jang Hmangte is one of the tallest sportsper­sons across the world. She is an icon and an in­spi­ra­tion for nu­mer­ous young peo­ple to take up sports. Not just in sports, but in life as well, we must not only laud her but also try to im­bibe her work ethic and per­se­ver­ance.

AU­THOR IS A POST GRAD­U­ATE

IN JOUR­NAL­ISM

AP

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