While cricket has always taken centre stage in India, Mary Kom turned the spotlight towards boxing when she finished third in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Over the years, she has managed to draw public attention to boxing, winning several events.
Mary Kom was born Mangte Chungneijang on March 1, 1983 in Kangathei, Manipur. Her parents, Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom were tenant farmers who worked in Jhum
fields. Kom studied at the Loktak Christian Model High School at Moirang and later attended St. Xavier Catholic School, Moirang. Here, she took interest in athletics, especially 400m running and javelin. She later shifted to Adimjati High School, Imphal. During this time, Dingko Singh, a Manipuri boxer, returned from the 1998 Asian Games with a gold medal. This inspired Kom to pursue boxing instead of athletics.
Soon, she started training under coach K. Kosana Meitei in Imphal. Kom picked up the basics quickly and next, trained under Manipur State Boxing Coach M. Narjit Singh. She started appearing in, and winning State tournaments. In 2005, she married Karung Onkholer Kom, a footballer and took a hiatus from boxing.
After she gave birth to her second child, Kom resumed boxing training. She took part in the 2008 Asian Women’s Boxing Championship in India and won a silver medal. The same year, she won the gold medal in the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in China. She followed this win with another gold medal in the 2009 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam.
Kom continued her good form into the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, where she secured a bronze medal; her first-ever Asian Games medal. Later that year, she had the honour of bearing the Queen’s Baton in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games. She, however, did not compete in the Games since women’s boxing was not included.
Two years later, she made her country proud and turned the spotlight on boxing when she bagged the bronze medal in the 2012 London Olympic Games. This was the first time women’s boxing featured as a sport in Olympics, making it India’s first medal in women’s boxing.
After her Olympic success, Kom went on to win her first ever gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon. She was keen to represent India in the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, but failed to qualify.
Kom’s most recent victory came in the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games where she won the gold medal.
Kom is currently preparing to represent India in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
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