K is for Mary (K)om or Magnificent Mary who could throw many a knockout punch – #BlogchatterAtoZ #AtoZChallenge 2019

K is for Mary (K)om or Magnificent Mary who could throw many a knockout punch – #BlogchatterAtoZ #AtoZChallenge 2019

Image Courtesy: Wikipedia.org

I am a feminist and an admirer of women who stand shoulder to shoulder with men in our society which has always had a patriarchal mindset. Being an IIT graduate, I am afraid I have to admit to a certain kind of hypocrisy when it comes to education. What I am trying to convey is, at a subconscious level, my admiration for women has always tilted towards the upwardly mobile, elite and educated women like Naina Lal Kidwai and Kiran Mazumdar Shah who have made names for themselves in sectors like banking and business. 

You know how it is; no matter how hard you try, certain attitudes that have crept into your mind at a subconscious level are really hard to shake off. But off-late, I completely lost this attitude when Indian women started grabbing the nation’s attention with some sterling performances in the sporting arena. I realised that women from small towns and even rural backgrounds were equally capable of being really great achievers. 

Today I will bring you the story of Chungneijang Mary Kom Hmangte better known as Mary Kom or Magnificent Mary. Mary Kom was born on 1, March 1983 in Kangathei village, Moirang Lamkhai in Churachandpur district of rural Manipur in Northeastern India. 

Kom has a younger sister and a brother. She had very humble beginnings and used to help her parents in doing farm chores. At school, she initially learnt athletics and later boxing. Kom was unable to pass her matriculation exam and later gave her examination from NIOS Imphal and graduated from Churachandpur College.

When Kom was in school she was an allrounder who experimented with volleyball, football and athletics. Inspired by Dingko Singh’s success she switched from athletics to boxing in 2000. At the age of fifteen, she left her hometown for the state capital Imphal where she trained under K. Kosana Meitei. In a BBC interview, Meietei later mentioned that she was a young girl with a lot of will power who could pick up the basics of boxing very easily.

Kom then started training under Manipur State Boxing Coach, M Narjit Singh at Khuman Lampak, Imphal. Kom kept her training and interest in boxing a secret from her father but he found out when he happened to see her photograph in a newspaper. Kom’s father was worried that taking up boxing would ruin her face and as is customary with Indian fathers he felt this would spoil her chances of getting married. It took three years for him to accept her decision when he realised that Kom truly loved boxing and wanted to pursue it.

Kom met her husband Karung Onkholer, a footballer in 2000 when her luggage was stolen on her way to Bengaluru by train and thereafter to Delhi for a sports meet. Kom and Onkholer married in 2005 and have three sons, twins by name Rechungvar and Khupneivar (born in 2007), and Prince born in May 2013. After marriage, Mary quit boxing for a couple of years. But thanks to her husband’s support and encouragement she began training again. 

In the 2008 Asian Women’s Boxing Championship held in India, she won a silver medal. She won four successive Gold Medals in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship held in China. This was followed by a Gold in Asian indoor games held at Vietnam. Then followed a string of medals in 2010 and 2011. She won the Gold medal in the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship held at Kazhakstan. 

In the AIBA World Women’s Boxing Championship held at Barbados, she went on to win her fifth Gold medal. In the Asian Games of 2010, she competed in the 51 Kg class and won the Bronze. In the 2010 Commonwealth Games held in Delhi, she along with Sanjay and Harshit Jain had the honour of bearing the Queen’s baton in its opening ceremony. Unfortunately, she could not compete in the games as women’s boxing was not included in the commonwealth games. In 2011, she won the Gold in the 48 kg class in the Asian Women’s Cup held in China. 

In the Summer Olympic Games of 2012 held in London, women’s boxing was included as a sport for the first time in Olympics. Kom’s mother accompanied her to London but her coach could not as he did not have the AIBA 3-star certification which was necessary for accreditation. Her passport and all her luggage had been stolen earlier on her way to Bangkok for the selection camp for her first Asian Women’s championship. 

On 5, August 2012 Mary Kom defeated Karolina Michulczuk of Poland 19-14 in the third ever women’s boxing match to be fought at the Olympics. The next day in the quarter-finals, Kom defeated Maroua Rahali of Tunisia 15-6. In the semi-finals, she lost to Nicola Adams of the UK 6-11. But however, she secured a bronze medal and in recognition, the Manipur government awarded her Rs 50 lakhs and two acres of land.

Kom continued to bring accolades for India after her Olympic bronze. At the Asian Games conducted at Incheon, South Korea in 2014 she won the Gold Medal by beating Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova in the flyweight (51 Kg) finals. On 8 November 2017, she won a fifth gold medal (48 kg) at the ASBC Asian Confederation women’s boxing championships held at Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam. 

This was the first time someone had won Gold for the fifth time in this championship. On 24, November 2018 Mary Kom created a world record by becoming the first woman to win six world championships. She achieved this feat at the 10th  AIBA World Women’s Boxing Championship held in New Delhi. Kom’s autobiography titled Unbreakable was co-authored by Dina Serto and published by HarperCollins in 2013. 

On 5, September 2014 a movie titled Mary Kom was released. The movie was directed by Omung Kumar and Priyanka Chopra played the role of Mary Kom. For her bronze in the London Olympics, she was awarded several cash prizes by the governments of Manipur, Rajasthan, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The ministry of tribal affairs also came up with a cash award of Rs. 10 Lacs. The title of ‘Meethoileima’ was conferred on her by the Manipur government.

Kom has not turned professional but even as an Amateur she surpasses several professionals in terms of earnings. She was awarded the Arjuna Award in 2003 and Padmashri in 2006. She is the first amateur athlete to be awarded the Padma Bhushan in 2013. AIBA conferred the title ‘Magnificent Mary’ on her in 2008. She won the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2009. She serves as the brand ambassador for the Super Fight League. She also made an appearance on the last episode of the Super Fight League’s mixed martial arts reality show – SFL Challengers.

Mary Kom’s is an inspiring story. A girl born in a rural area in a remote state like Manipur makes it to international fame by dint of hard work, will power and courage to fight against all odds. She is not your usual B-School grad who has a flashy MBA under her belt and enters the corporate world and rises up the ladder through promotions and managerial skills. She is an achiever of a different kind who has proved that what it takes to get to the top can be anything as long as it works for a person.

Tags – #BlogchatterAtoZ 2019 #AtoZChallenge 2019

42 thoughts on “K is for Mary (K)om or Magnificent Mary who could throw many a knockout punch – #BlogchatterAtoZ #AtoZChallenge 2019”

  1. I was waiting for this post. Just wasn't sure if it was going to be on the day of M or K. Mary is an inspiration to an entire generation of women athletes. I also applaud her husband for being such a staunch supporter of his wife's career. This is one of my favorite pieces from you.

  2. A well known name and an inspiring story. What I admire most is how she pursued her dream even after having her children which is a feat in itself.

  3. Mary Kom is the true inspiration for all the mothers. How she worked hard? How she never gave up? How her husband supported her in each odds.Very Inspiring! Heads off to her and her husband too.

  4. Magnificient Mary Kom, She is such an inspiration to many women around the world. I recently showed the movie based on her life to my little daughter and she was amuzed with the fact that a woman can be so strong.

  5. She is one of the very inspiring and motivating women of present times, Magnificent mary is also known as “Meethoi Leima” which means exceptional lady. great post

  6. What an incredible life story! It is inspiring to see how much one can achieve if their mind is really put to it. Thanks for sharing it, I've not actually heard of her before.

  7. Yes, how could I omit her of all people? Her husband has been a rock hard in his support and she has herself struggled hard to achieve things. A very inspiring person for all women.

  8. Yes, after children it becomes very difficult for women to pursue a career in sports. But she has really worked on things and achieved this. A really great woman indeed.

  9. Absolutely! It is unfortunate that deserving people are no longer given the limelight in media these days. We have to stare at faces of politicians everytime we watch television news or open the newspaper s in the morning.

  10. Yes, Jose her husband is a role model for all men. He is what a husband should be like to his wife. And Mary herself deserves credit for all the hard work and effort she has put in.

  11. Yes, she never gave up did she? Fought hard after two children and won a bronze medal. Never say die attitude as you say.

  12. I did not watch the movie myself but I will definitely show the movie to my 12 year old. It is good to teach our children tales of inspiring people.

  13. Yes, indeed. With hard work and determination a woman is as good and very often better then most men. A woman has to play so many roles whereas men have fewer responsibilities in life at least in my opinion.

  14. Yes, ultimately it is a question of how determined a person is and how hard she/he fights and stands up to the hurdles that come in the way. Thanks for visiting.

  15. Yes, a role model indeed. By sheer will power and hard work she demonstrated that women could have it all if they just try. Thanks for visiting.

  16. After watching Priyanka Chopra's film Mary Kom I came to know more about her. Films are little dramatic compared to real stories or books. She is really inspiration. I read this post again to refresh my knowledge about Mary. Very well written.

  17. Jai, I loved the way you began this post. Women who command respect from a position of power are generally seen as strong achievers. However, it is exceptional women like Mary Kom who cross barriers, starting with their own homes and family, who truly deserve to be applauded for their achievements. She's a role model for girls, and rightly so.

  18. The world came to know about Mary Kom (most of the masses) after the movie was released and it felt proud to have such stars in our country. Her real battle started when she delivered the babies and was managing her game practice along with her babies!

    She is truly an inspiration for all of us!


  19. Thanks for visiting Sanjota. I have not seen the movie but if I remember correctly the reviews were no very positive. Yes, Mary Kom is a great inspiration to Indians.

  20. It is true, isn't it? When we think of successful women we immediately think of Kiran Mazumdar Shah and Chanda Kochar and all B-School grads who make it big in business. This is a kind of inherent hypocrisy in Indians. The better the caliber of English the more the respect. But these women from rural areas are now doing us proud.

  21. Yes, it must have taken a lot of will power to achieve so much after two children. We should indeed be proud to have such stars in our country who do not let difficulties deter them.

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