CHUNGNEIJANG Mary Kom Hmangte must simply do away with the negativity, the despair — she should be nothing but proud of her latest feat, winning a bronze medal at boxing’s World Championships. Her eighth medal in the event’s history has made Mary the most successful boxer ever — male or female — in the World Championships. Eighteen years after she won her first World Championships medal, a silver, Mary has trumped Cuban legend Felix Savon, who has seven Worlds medals. However, on Saturday, Mary was visibly shocked when her opponent, Busenaz Cakiroglu, was declared the winner in the semifinals — Mary believed that she had done enough to win the bout.
Immediately after she lost, Mary said that bad/biased scoring had robbed her of a chance to fight for gold. Upon reflection, however, Mary probably realised that Busenaz was a strong fighter, and that for herself to secure a bronze in the 51kg category, that too at the age of 36, is worthy of celebration. Mary’s seven other World Championships medals were won in up to 48kg weight classes. Her natural weight class is 48kg, commensurable with her 5ft-2in height. But there’s no 48kg weight division in the Olympic Games, so every few years, to prepare for the Olympics, she gains 3kg to get used to boxing in the 51kg class. It’s tough going for her in that category, for there she faces taller boxers who are natural in that division. The previous two times she fought in the 51kg division in the World Championships, she lost in the quarterfinals. Thus, with only nine months to go for the Tokyo Olympics, her first Worlds medal in the 51kg class is very good news.
Mary’s desire to excel and go on and on, after over 20 years of bruising fights and knocks, is inspirational. Being lionised by India — immortalised in the movies, nominated to the Rajya Sabha — has not dimmed her ambition and enthusiasm; nor has becoming a mother to three sons. She is a prime example of the importance of women role models for every society, especially a gender-unequal one like ours.