People often dwell upon the idea of having a life where everything they have ever aspired to be or desired to possess has been realised without any obstacles or struggles endured to get to that life. However, the struggle is an indispensable part of human life that sharpens dedication, value, and morale. The long phase of struggle breaks the cocoon of uncertainty, apprehension, and idleness and helps a person become more confident, resilient, and focused.
One name that comes to mind while discussing the struggles in life is Mary Kom. Born to Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom, in the year 1982, Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom was one of the four siblings of a poverty-stricken Manipuri family from the Kagathei village of Manipur.
Growing up in very unassuming surroundings, Mary balanced her school, athletics, and boxing lessons as well as helping her parents at the farm. Her passion for wrestling was inherited by Mary from her father, but unfortunately, it was considered back then as a men’s sport which was the initial obstacle that threatened to nip the bud of her talent in the very beginning, even before it could flourish. Read about this elaborately in Mary Kom’s biograph.
Mary Kom was in Class 8 when she gained proficiency in the 400-meter run and javelin throw. At the same time, she found her inspiration in Dingko Singh, another fellow Manipuri, who had won the gold medal in the year 1998 at Bangkok Asian Games. She had always wanted to explore her flare in boxing, but could never express it openly. However, it was her unwavering determination that even fetched her support from her father who was striving very hard to arrange proper meals for the family as read in Mary Kom’s biography.
Eventually, the day arrived when Mary Kom could start her training sessions. She started to train officially under the able guidance of K. Kosana Meitei in Imphal, and by the time she was 15 years old, she joined the Imphal Sports Academy. Being a quick learner, her basic knowledge of boxing got her enrolled under the state-level boxing coach named M. Narjit Singh from Manipur.
Yet, there were apprehensions regarding Mary’s future as boxing or similar sports might ruin the prospects of finding a suitable match for her marriage through injury. It took Mary to win her first world championship medal in the year 2002 in Antalya in Turkey to convince everyone that despite such a humble background and challenges, a girl from a remote village in India can enthral an international audience, perform like an international athlete, and show signs of great mastery.
Following her win in 2002, Mary Kom had a total of five national championships in her kitty by the year 2005 as found in Mary Kom’s biography. However, her recognition after her first win still did not improve her financial condition.
Mary’s father had never supported a boxing career for his daughter fearing the likelihood of injuries and maiming of her face, which could put a question mark on the prospects of her marriage. But fortune had different plans for her when she took a break from her boxing career to get married and start her career.
Her husband, Onler Karung believed in her talent more than herself and constantly pushed her with a lot of encouragement and support to chase her dreams, regardless of how thorny the path was. Wholeheartedly supporting Mary’s spirit, her husband had absolute confidence in her capabilities and dreams, and he continue to constantly motivate her to make a comeback after her childbirth. She has proved to be a fighter and her courage is admirably shown in Mary Kom’s biography.
As history has shown us, the idea of undergoing physical training or sports activities for a female athlete is somewhat considered to be absurd in India as the stereotypes suggest that once an Indian woman gets married and delivers children, her achievements are measured in terms of the management of her household and family. Being someone who has always believed in vanquishing stereotypes and doing exactly what very few anticipate her to do, Mary decided to make her comeback into the field of boxing despite becoming a mother.
All kinds of criticisms and doubts were hurled at Mary for even considering a comeback but she always maintained her stand that she was returning to boxing to show that women can do anything, including achieving success in male-driven sport; hence, she would pursue it no matter what. In an unperturbed way, refusing to give up on what society recognised to be the ‘man’s game,’ Mary decided to prepare to get back to the ring after staying out of it for almost two years.
In Mary Kom’s biography, she has shown eternal courage and become a fighter. In the year 2008, Mary made an extraordinary comeback in the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship held in India by winning a silver medal followed by a gold medal at AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship organized in China.
The golden movement for Mary was about to arrive in the year 2012 when she had prepared to participate in the London Olympics. What made the year more memorable for both Mary and the world was that boxing was added to the list of sports in the Olympics and Mary Kom was about to participate in the 48-51kg category.
As her life has always been, this time too, the prospect of an Olympics win was not without struggles as the coaches of the Olympics were not very confident of her due to her short height and underweight. However, once again, driven by her grit and determination Mary focused on winning the bronze medal at the Olympics and that too as the first Indian woman boxer in the history of Indian sports. Read more in Mary Kom’s biography