Mary Kom: The epitome of sporting excellence

Indeed, Chungneijang Mary Kom Hmangte popularly known as Mary Kom has epitomised sporting excellence. She has been already and deservedly nicknamed Magnificient Mary Kom and the State Government is now considering another befitting title for the ace boxer who has now become a living legend. If we must say, Mary Kom more than deserves a befitting title for she has now become a symbol of women’s boxing in the entire country. If the first gold she won at Antalya, Turkey way back in 2002 was a historic one and a defining moment in her illustrious career, the latest gold she won at KD Jadhav Indoor Stadium, New Delhi on November 24, 2018 was not only a record-breaking one but also the most glorious one. She had already clinched the World Championship gold on five occasions — 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 — besides bagging a silver on her debut in 2001. Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota, Mary Kom’s opponent of the championship’s final match is 10 years younger but it was Mary Kom who dominated all the rounds of the final match. The jam-packed stadium had a sublime experience on seeing the age-defying performance enriched by years of experience. Very few athletes can stay in limelight for 16 years but Mary Kom is one of those rare exceptions. It was exactly 16 years ago Mary Kom won her first world boxing gold and she never faded away from limelight all these years. She has now surpassed Katie Taylor of Ireland who had won five golds. The Magnificient Mary Kom is now tied with Cuba’s Felix Savon as the joint most successful boxer – men and women – in the World Championships history. If her spectacular performances in the ring is an inspiration to all budding boxers, her upbringing and childhood struggle will certainly prove to be even more inspirational to all boys and girls struggling for success in life.
Like many other successful sports persons of the State, Mary Kom was born to a very poor family at a remote village called Kangathei in Churachandpur district. Her parents, being tenant farmers used to toil on jhum fields every single day to earn a square meal a day. She had to struggle really hard to pursue her penchant for sports, particularly athletics in the initial days and at the same time help her parents in domestic chores. Not surprisingly, it was Ng Dingko Singh who inspired Mary Kom to switch to boxing from athletics. Dingko became a sensation not only in Manipur but also in the entire country in 1998 when he won gold in the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. Dingko’s childhood is even more touching for he grew up in orphanage. It was sheer grit, tenacity and dedication to their chosen fields that Dingko and Mary Kom overcame all obstacles and succeeded in glorifying their own names. Just as much as Mary Kom’s awesome achievements deserve appreciation, the contributions of all her coaches starting from the very initial days deserve acknowledgement. No doubt, Mary Kom deserves a title which matches her stellar achievements but bestowing title or titles is not enough if Manipur must produce many more Mary Koms and superstars in all sports disciplines. There must be adequate infrastructure and institutional support for all sports disciplines. There must be adequate number of coaching centres equipped with state of the art technology. Last but not the least sports medicine is another area which must be given proper attention and developed in accordance to the changing dynamics of the sporting world. No doubt, Manipuri sports persons are inherently talented but inherent talents are not enough to win medals in international championships. There must be the entire necessary infrastructure including training facilities.

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