Timeless Mary eclipses all; brightest star of India’s 2018
She has been a defining force in Indian boxing for well over a decade but the timeless M C Mary Kom managed to surpass even herself, obliterating everyone and everything else along the way in a tumultuous year for the sport She turned 36 the day an unprecedented sixth world title became hers in front of adoring home fans
She has been a defining force in Indian boxing for well over a decade but the timeless M C Mary Kom managed to surpass even herself, obliterating everyone and everything else along the way in a tumultuous year for the sport. She turned 36 the day an unprecedented sixth world title became hers in front of adoring home fans.
But it wouldn't be wrong to call Mary Kom ageless for she was around when women's boxing took baby-steps towards going mainstream and she is around when the sport gears up for an Olympic expansion in 2020.
That, of course, is subject to the under-fire International Boxing Association (AIBA) saving the sport from Olympic exclusion in the face of mounting IOC criticism of its administrators, particularly the alleged criminal antecedents of its President Gafur Rakhimov.
"Mary Kom is amazing, there is no other way to describe her. Performing at that level, beating younger girls, it is quite remarkable," Indian Boxing's High Performance Director Santiago Nieva told PTI, trying to sum up the legend of Mary Kom.
This is not to say that nothing else happened in Indian boxing. There were quite a few medals to celebrate, a prominent one being Amit Panghal's Asian Games gold. What made it remarkable was that he defeated reigning Olympic champion Hasanboy Dusmatov in the final.
In a breakthrough year for him, Amit (49kg) also won a silver at the Commonwealth Games. Then there was the discovery of a new star in Gaurav Solanki (52kg) after his rather unexpected gold medals at the CWG and the prestigious Chemistry Cup in Germany.
The two Army men were also top finishers at the inaugural India Open in Delhi, the biggest ever prize money tournament hosted by the country with a winners' purse of over Rs 1.5 lakh.
"It has been a very positive year for Indian boxing. We are a country which expects medals but I think a bigger measure of success is the performance and on that count, we did well," said Nieva "We discovered new faces like Gaurav and that speaks volumes about India's boxing strength," he added.
But that wasn't enough to shift the spotlight away from Mary Kom, whose year started with a gold (India Open) and ended with a gold (the world championships). These were two of the four yellow metals she picked up in all, including the CWG top honours. In between, there was also a silver at a prestigious European tournament in Bulgaria.
By Poonam Mehra