In her long and illustrious career, M. C. Mary Kom has scaled different heights, but all this while, she wondered why the women pugilists could only compete in three categories in the Olympics.
Things have changed as the women boxers will compete in five categories in the Tokyo Olympics and Mary, a silver-medallist at the London Games in 2012, is looking forward to it.
“Everything is possible if we hold our hands together. Earlier, we had only three categories for women boxers in the Olympics. I told them, 'why can’t we have all the weight categories for women boxers as well, just like the men'? Women also have the right,” Mary said at the We See Equal summit, organised by the United Nations and P&G on Monday.
“In 2020 Tokyo Olympics, we will have five categories for women. That’s a good thing (for the women boxers),” Mary said. Earlier, women boxers could feature in three weight categories, while men had 10 categories. From Tokyo, women will feature in five, while men will compete in eight.
Battling all the odds, Mary went on to become the face of women’s boxing in the country and she says that it wasn’t an easy task.
“In our country, it gets very difficult for women to pursue sports after marriage and after having kids. You see many of them go out of the profession for whatever reasons. I am one of the examples of how to fight despite having a family and raising three children. In the beginning, it was hard to fight so many things,” Mary said.
But then, even in challenging times, Mary had made it a point to practice regularly. “If I train hard, nobody can beat me easily. In boxing, you can win or lose by a point. Being a mother of three, it is not easy because the youngsters are stronger than me. I don’t have that much energy, but I need to train hard to ensure that I am right there,” she said.
As a youngster, Mary had no clue about boxing. Growing up in Imphal, she was familiar with terms like cricket, lawn tennis. “I had heard about men’s boxing, but then I saw matches of Muhammad Ali and also saw our local boy, Dingko Singh, winning Asian Games medal. That inspired me,” she said.
“Coming from a humble background, the parents did not want me to take up boxing because they were worried that what would happen to me if I was injured. That was their concern,” Mary said.
Life has been one big experience ever since and Mary is happy to have inspired a generation of women boxers.