MC Mary Kom will try her best to win a bigger medal in the Asian ChampionshipsOctober 30, 2017
MC Mary Kom swept up five world titles across eight years and then an Olympic bronze medal two years later, when the sport was introduced at the 2012 London Olympics. Many felt ‘Magnificent Mary’ was done with the ring after failing to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
But Mary Kom, 34, is back with a spring in her step, headed to the Asian Championships in the Vietnamese capital, Ho Chi Minh City from Nov 2 to 11. Since the London high, the boxer from Manipur has had an autobiography titled “Unbreakable” published and a biopic made. She has also been made a nominated Rajya Sabha member.
But the ringside view is still the best, says Mary Kom in this interview on the sidelines of the national camp for the Asian meet. And while Vijender Singh, Akhil Kumar and Sarita Devi haven’t really enjoyed their time in the professional ranks, Mary Kom is happier to throw punches for India than for money.
How is your training going?
My training is going very well. Everyone, the coaches and others, is helping me. For the last two years, I have been training with him (her personal trainer, Chhote Lal, from the Army). We always share what are my weaknesses, strengths and how to improve. Other coaches are also helping me.
How strong are you feeling?
Physically I can say I’m fit and fine, I can say I’m ready to fight.
How strong is competition at Asia level compared to the past?
Competition has gone up. No country is weak now, they are all strong. Because boxing is there is Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and the Olympics and because of this also there is more depth. Today, we can’t afford to take boxers from any country lightly.
You will fight in the 48kg class in Vietnam. You competed in 51kg in London. How do you keep switching?
My actual weight is 48kg. Earlier, I was fighting in a higher category. Gaining weight is difficult for me, and the training not exactly light training. It is very tough, and so to re-fill, increase weight is becoming very difficult for me. Still, I did that and qualified for the Olympics and got a medal. It’s a big thing.
You didn’t qualify for Rio and it seemed your career was over…
There were many reasons (for not qualifying for Rio). Not qualifying for Rio has not made me so sad. There will always be ups and downs in an athlete’s career. People may think in one way but I feel differently. They may think now that I have become an MP (nominated to the Rajya Sabha) I may not be able to continue. But when the government chooses me to do my duty, the bare minimum I can do is meet the expectations. This is for only five-six years (parliament tenure) and I accepted in the hope that I can do something good for the people.
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But everything I have got is thanks to boxing. So, why will I leave it? So, I want to continue to box for a year or two. I want to show people – those who have a negative perception – and prove to those at every corner of this country. I don’t know whether I will be able to do (win medals) or not, but I am working hard. And now I have been selected for the Asian championships and I’m again representing India.
How strong is our contingent?
We are a strong group (Sarita Devi, 35, is in the squad), we’re quite good in every category.
Experience of Indian boxers, men or women, with pro boxing has not been great…
I don’t want to say something that would make it appear I am interfering with what they are doing professionally or in their personal life. It is entirely up to the individual boxers what they want to do.
Maybe they felt it would do them good. I also had the offer. I don’t want to fight for money, I want to fight for the country. That is the reason I am continuing (as amateur). If I say something some will feel nice, some bad. That is why I don’t want to say much. Be it professional or amateur, we are all training the same way, twice or thrice a day. Everything is the same, maybe some of the points, they may not be the same.
How have your training methods changed?
It will be better to ask coaches about my specific training methods, but I always train with the aiming winning a medal. I hope I will win a medal if possible, try my best to win a bigger medal. Every athlete dreams of winning gold, and mine is no different.
The women’s world youth championships will be held in Guwahati in November. How important is it to hold a big event in the NorthEast?
It is a great thing. We can all see how they are doing a great job. In the past, the youth teams didn’t have foreign coaches, only the men had. But after the BFI came (ending faction-fighting in Indian boxing), there is an attempt to get all those things that are required. The men’s championship will also be organised in India (2019). I really appreciate what they are doing for boxing. And 17 tournaments (at youth level) in the last two tournaments is a huge achievement.
The youth boxers did participate in youth international events in the past, but maybe in fewer events. The federation is now sending, after the BFI was established as the recognised body. This is giving our young boxers more experience and confidence.
Do you see girls in the youth team answering “Who after Mary”?
I do see a lot of talent in the youth team. The foreign coach is from Italy. We have known him for many years. Even when we went to train in Italy a decade ago, he was there. Now, they has been appointed to train the youth boxers.