M C Mary Kom today created history as she assured India its fourth Olympic medal after winning her quarterfinal boxing bout against Maroua Rahali of Tunisia by 15-6 margin in the women’s 51 kg category here today.
The five-time world champion and the face of women’s boxing in India for the past decade has now been assured of at least a bronze medal in the inaugural edition of women’s boxing in the Games. She will also be the third Indian woman after Karnam Malleswari and Saina Nehwal to win an Olympic medal.
Someone who enjoys iconic status in the North-East India, the performance of the 29-year old Manipuri woman who is mother of twin boys will surely encourage many more from the region to take up the sport.
‘Magnificent Mary’, as she is known in the boxing fraternity, fought in a calculative manner as she used the first round to sort out her Tunisian opponent and then slowly upped the ante in the subsequent three rounds.
The first round was a quiet affair with Mary gaining a slender 2-1 lead. A couple of meaty blows in the second round helped her increase the lead to 5-3.
However, just like yesterday when she launched a furious assault on her Polish opponent Karolina in the third round, Mary employed the same strategy in the third round today.
A couple of right hooks followed by a lethal left hook was enough to soften up the big bodied Tunisian girl who was trying to use her long reach to keep her Indian opponent at bay.
The 11-4 scoreline in the third round was the decisive lead that Mary needed as it is never easy to erase a 7-point deficit without a knock-out.
The last round was all about keeping her cool although Mary at times got tempted to punch her opponent at the back of her head inviting caution from the referee. Still she managed to clinch the round with a 4-2 score and the final margin of 15-6 was certainly a convincing way to get into the semi-final.
For the mother, who missed her twins’ fifth birthday yesterday, this is supposed to be the most precious birthday gift they received from their mother. Rechungvar and Khupneivarand should not be complaining.
The magnificence of Mother Mary
Not many athletes can claim to be the greatest in just their debut Olympics, but then, not many can be compared to the ‘Magnificent M C Mary Kom’, a living legend in international boxing much before women got a chance to show their mettle in the quadrennial event.
In fact, the medal that she assured herself today in London by reaching the flyweight semifinals is a tribute to all that the Manipuri has accomplished in a career that has spanned 12 years, most of them at the top.
Her statistics in the ring are astonishing to say the least — five world and four Asian titles in three different weight categories, besides numerous international medals that she clinched before being catapulted to the status of a living legend by no less than the International Boxing Association.
These figures alone are, however, not the complete story of her greatness.
The 29-year-old ‘pint sized dynamo’ got her fourth world title, in 2008, within months of a comeback to competitive boxing following a two-year break forced by the birth of her twin sons.
And when she fought for her fourth Asian title this year, one of her sons was undergoing heart surgery in India.
But even that is not a good enough measure of Mary Kom’s brilliance considering that her journey started from a remote village in the insurgency-hit state of Manipur where, not so long ago, an economic blockade had crippled normal life.
Her farmer parents describe her as a no-nonsense fiery character who, while growing up, wouldn’t think twice before thrashing boys, dare they tease her and perhaps it proved to be her first lessons in landing blows.
For a while she dabbled in athletics before a certain Dingko Singh inspired her towards her true calling in life.