Mary Kom was born in 1983 in a poor family in Kangathei, Manipur.She is the first daughter of Shri M Tonpa Kom and Smt M Akham Kom. They belonged to Kangathel village, a small village in Churachandpur district in Manipur.
Her parents, Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom, worked in jhum fields. Her family background speaks a lot of how Mary overcame hardship and inconveniences and created a name for herself in the arena of world boxing.
She completed her primary education from Loktak Christian Model High School, Moirang till her class sixth standard and St.Xavier School, Moirang up to class VIII. She then moved to Adimjati High School, Imphal for her schooling for class IX and X, but could not pass her examination. She did not want to reappear for her exams so she quit her school and passed her examination from NIOS, Imphal and graduation from Churachandpur College.
Being the eldest, Mary helped her parents work in the fields, cutting woods, making charcoal and fishing. On the other hand, she spent a good time looking after her two younger sisters and a brother.
Mary Kom was interested in sports since her childhood. She took a keen interest in Athletics. when she was in class VI in Loktak Christian Mission School, Moirang and class VII- VIII in St.Xavier School, Moirang. Mary thought that she would become a good athlete one day and carve a name for herself in the discipline. But fate decided otherwise.
She took to sports in an effort to provide some financial support to her family. “I was initially an all-round athlete, and 400-m and javelin were my pet events.
It was the success of Dingko Singh that inspired her to become a boxer. The rise of Dingko Singh and the demonstration of women boxers at the 5th National Games (Manipur) inspired her. When Dingko Singh returned from Bangkok (Asian Games) with a gold, I thought I should give it a try. Dingko’s success triggered a revolution of sort in Manipur and surprisingly I found that I was not the only girl who was drawn into boxing,” she said.
She began boxing in 2000 and was a quick learner who preferred to be put through the same paces as the boys around her. “In just two weeks, I had learnt all the basics. I guess I had God-given talent for boxing.”
Mary had tried to hide her interest in boxing from her family, since it was not considered as a sport for them. Her father scolded her when a photo of her winning the state boxing championship came in the newspaper. This, however, did not deter her from pursuing a career in boxing.
“I still remember I was castigated by my father who said with a battered and bruised face, I should not expect to get married. He was furious that I took to boxing – a taboo for women – and he did not have the slightest idea about it. But my passion for the sport had got the better of me and I thank my cousins who coaxed and cajoled my father into eventually giving his nod. I’m happy that I did not let anybody down,” she told in September 2004.
Mary Kom decided to enter into the ring with determination and strong will. To pursue her dream of becoming a world class pugilist, she joined Sports Authority of India, Khuman Lampak and underwent an intensive training from coach and mentor, Shri. Ibomcha Singh.
At a tender age of 18, Mary made her debut at the first Women World Boxing Championship, after just one year of starting to learn boxing, which was held at Pennsylvania, USA. At her debut event itself, she won a silver medal in the 46 kg weight category .A year later, she went on to win the gold at the second Association Internationale de Boxe Amateur (AIBA) World Women’s Senior Boxing Championship. held at Antalya, Turkey.
Mary Kom is a mother of twin sons. In 2008, she came back from a two-year maternity break to clinch her fourth boxing gold in World Championships. That instantly won her the name “Magnificent Mary’.
The family came to know of the problem in her son Khupneivar’s heart when he was four years old. After consulting with a doctor friend who is now based in Chandigarh, Mary decided to have the procedure done at Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh, which is close to NIS, Patiala, where she has been training. Mary Kom fought Asian champion Kim Myong Sim in the title bout at the Asian Cup women’s boxing tournament in Haikou, China, little Khupneivar cheered for mummy from his hospital bed in Chandigarh.
Mary Kom’s Quotes
“Don’t give up as there is always a next time. Think that if Mary Kom, a mother of two, can do it, why can’t you?.
“I do not only rely on my technique or strength but also on my mind,”
“To be a successful boxer one must also have a strong heart. Some women are physically strong but fail when it comes to having a strong heart. One also must have the zeal and the right fighting spirit,” says Mary kom.
“We work harder than men and are determined to fight with all our strength to make our nation proud. God has given me the talent and it’s only because of sheer grit and hard work that I have made it so far.”
“If I, being a mother of two, can win a medal, so can you all. Take me as an example and don`t give up”.
“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”
“Boxing is not easy. When I started, my male friends would say it is not a woman’s sport. But I say if men can do it then why not women.”
Ms. Kom said marriage and motherhood also posed as a challenge to her. “When I had two children even my father did not believe in me, let alone others. However, my family’s love and support helped me to reach my dream.”
Likening her story to that of David facing Goliath, Mary Kom says, “I always remember I am also so small and Manipur is very small, but if I pray and if I do very hard work then I will win.”
Mary Kom is a five time successive World Boxing champion, a biennial amateur boxing competition organised by the International Boxing Association (AIBA). She is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the six World Championships. As of June 2012, she is ranked world no. 4 in the 51 kg women’s category by AIBA. She has more than three Asian titles and eleven National titles under her belt.
She is a recipient of the Arjuna Award, the Padma Shri Award, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award and a special award from AIBA.
Mary Kom created history by becoming first person from north east to win bronze medal in Olympics 2012.
Mary Kom has overcome gender bias, poverty, the limitations of her small size, and the disadvantages of the small region to win the olympic medal for boxing. She is an inspiration not only for the North-Eastern people but also for women who endure hardships on a daily basis.