Unsung champion

Unsung champion

She is 35 years old, is a member of the Upper House, a mother of three sons and runs an academy back home in Imphal. For all the multitasking that...

She is 35 years old, is a member of the Upper House, a mother of three sons and runs an academy back home in Imphal. For all the multitasking that could unnerve the toughest of women, the seasoned campaigner stays active in a rugged sport, not just as a pretender to the throne but as the firmly ensconced queen.

That’s MC Mary Kom, whose tragedy is that she is an unsung face in the sports crowd of a nation that goes overboard in praising the likes of Sania Mirza, Mithali Raj, Saina Nehwal, PV Sindhu, Sakshi Malik, Dipa Karmakar, Aditi Ashok, Dronavalli Harika, Joshna Chinappa and Dipika Pallikal among others. Of course, given the typical Indian trait, appreciations will come from the Prime Minister, Union Sports Minister to every other celebrity, who is hooked on to twitter.

Alas, this public ‘euphoria’ will die a natural death in less than 48 hours because she is neither ‘glamourous’ nor is she a celebrated brand ambassador, whom sponsors chase. In contrast, an actress who comes out of motherhood and faces the camera is the darling of the nation, all over again. Yes, there is no dearth of cynics in India! Lest one forgets, Mary Kom is a five-time world champion and an Olympic medallist.

If these are not enough in themselves, she is right now the toast of the boxing fraternity having claimed an unprecedented fifth Asian Boxing Championship gold medal, which she accomplished with nonchalant gusto in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday. What makes it more special is that this was her first international gold in over three years. The turbulent period saw her struggle and survive several odds outside of the ring.

It is remarkable that for a 30-plus boxer, nicknamed ‘Magnificent Mary’ by International Boxing Association (AIBA) back in 2010, Mary Kom, with a matter-of-fact sanguinity, seems to knock the daylight out of her opponents, who bear youthful exuberance and demonstrate extraordinary agility during bouts, because there is an unquenchable thirst in this old warhorse.

She has been around for two decades but has not lost the potent knockout punch, even after women boxing became an Olympic discipline. It has been more so since having switched over from 51kg to 48kg category in which category the AIBA ‘Legends’ awardee competes today.

That Mary Kom also has guts outside the ring came to the fore when fellow Olympic medallist Vijender Singh announced his intention to turn a professional. By openly supporting his move, despite the national body spitting venom at the Haryana pugilist, Mary Kom proved that she would neither lie low nor buckle down to official pressure or diktat.

Even as people wonder about when she would hang up her gloves, the diminutive boxer, who can tower over Goliaths with her furious punches, is in no mood to call it a day. In fact, she is gearing up for the next big challenge that awaits her – Gold Coast Commonwealth Games! That is the combative fighter MC Mary Kom, a torch-bearer who needs to be rewarded as suitably as the glamour girls of Indian sport.

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