Mary Kom Clinches Another Gold Medal: Is The Sports Ministry Ready To Take Women’s Sports Seriously?

Posted: February 3, 2018

While the male boxers stumbled, India’s Magnificent Mary Kom bagged yet another gold in the Indian Open Boxing Tournament proving that women in sports need to be taken more seriously and given better facilities.

“In a sportsperson’s life, pressure is always there; you have to learn to deal with it”– Mary Kom

Indian Olympic boxer, Mary Kom is back in the news after clinching yet another victory for women in sports. Mary Kom, the boxer with an iron fist, bagged gold while the Indian men’s juggernaut was swept off by Cuba and Uzbekistan in the grand finale of the Indian Open boxing tournament in New Delhi on Thursday, 01 February, 2018. She gave a tough fight to Phillippine’s Josie Gabuco in her smashing 4 – 1 in the 48 kgs women’s weight category.

I guess this is yet another reminder to our patriarchal society and to the sports ministry to improve the infrastructure and facilities for women in sports. Time and again women have been denied fair treatment. Olympic gymnast Dipa Karmakar, weightlifter Mira Bai Chanu, and swimmer Kanchanmala Pande are just a few of the recent names who proved that women are no less when it comes to world championships in sports. Then why do we need to keep reminding our sports ministry for ramping up the funding for women’s sports? These athletes do not need flowers or garlands or superficial felicitations, what they need is good coaching and better facilities.

As I write this essay congratulating Mary Kom on her victory, let us take a look at her life so far, and how she rose to the heights of phenomenal success.

Mary Kom was born in November 1982 in the Kangthei Village of rural Manipur. Her parents were poor farmers who toiled in the paddy fields. However, sports ran in her blood as her father was a wrestler. Kom helped her parents in the daily chores along with her studies. Her parents, though poor, made sure that she received proper education. Apart from studies, she also took an interest in athletics, especially javelin.

It was Dingko Singh, a fellow Manipuri, whose winning of the Gold in the 1998 Bangkok Asian games that inspired her to learn boxing.  Kom was equally adept in sports like volleyball and football but it was due to Mr Singh’s inspiration that she switched from those to boxing. She decided to leave her hometown to study at the Sports Academy situated in the state capital Imphal, at the age of 15.

Kom initially kept her passion for boxing as a secret from her father, an ex-wrestler, who feared that boxing might disfigure or hurt her in ways that reduced her prospects for marriage.  He got to know only when her photo appeared on the newspaper in 2000 when she won the state boxing championship.

She took a short break post her marriage and mothered two children. Thereafter, she resumed and won a silver medal at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship in 2008. A powerhouse of talent, people gave her the well-deserved nickname of “Magnificent Mary”.

Listed below are the ten facts about Mary Kom that every Indian must know:

  • Mary Kom is a high school dropout though she later on finished her schooling through alternate ways and even completed her graduation.
  • Her biggest inspiration was Dingko Singh who won the gold medal in boxing in 1998 Asian Games.
  • As a young girl she faced vehement opposition from her parents regarding her choice of a career as a boxer.
  • She is the only Indian female boxer to qualify for, and win a medal in the Olympics.
  • Mary is the only female boxer to win a medal in six consecutive world championships.
  • She is the first Indian woman boxer to win a gold medal in the Asian Games.
  • She, along with Sanjay and Harshit Jain, bore the Queen’s Baton in the opening ceremony run in the stadium for the 2010 Commonwealth Games of Delhi.
  • Mary Kom is the first amateur athlete to win the Padma Bhushan.
  • She is the first amateur athlete to surpass several professional athletes in India in earnings, endorsements and awards.
  • She is a supporter of animal rights, and has been associated with the animal rights organization, PETA India.

Her life is a proof that women can excel in any category of sports and that even includes the dare devil boxing which as I mentioned earlier, can leave a woman disfigured or can cause a grievous injuries to her private parts. Mary is a loving mother to three beautiful boys. Her husband has been her constant support as he takes care of the children while she is off for any tournament.

A winner of Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honor and also of Padma Bhushan, the third highest civilian award in India, Mary Kom is indeed an inspiration to all, regardless of one’s gender.

To all who aren’t mush aware of her struggles, here are some inspiring words from the Magnificent Mary Kom, “People used to say that boxing is for men and not for WOMEN, and I thought I will show them some day. I promised myself and I proved myself.”

Let us congratulate Magnificent Mary on her success and wish her the best for her future. And a special note to the sports ministry: Please focus on women in sports, they made us proud time and again, and will continue to do so without a doubt.

Image via Flickr, credits Boxing AIBA, used under a Creative Commons license

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Rimli Bhattacharya is a First class gold medalist in Mechanical Engineering from National Institute of

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