M. C. Mary Kom gearing up in earnest for Tokyo 2020

Mary Kom, the six-time World champion, has already chalked out a plan to prepare for the marquee event.

Packing a punch: M. C. Mary Kom notices she has lesser injuries than many boxers of the younger generation.   -  PTI

From the paddy fields of Manipur to six times World boxing champion, M. C. Mary Kom has come a long way. And despite age catching up with her, the gritty mother of three is confident of packing a punch at the Tokyo Olympics.

With the marquee event a year and a half away, Mary Kom has already started chalking out a plan. “In the World Championships, I have noticed those who are fighting. I have got all the videos ready and [will] prepare accordingly,” Mary said on the sidelines of a promotional event on Wednesday.

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But the boxer is facing difficulty in getting a sparring partner. “Here, no one wants to help. As the team for World Championship was announced, those who did not get the chance went back. Only a few people are left [for sparring]. We requested them. [But] even the people who stay nearby don’t want to stay,” she said. If there are no women training partners, Mary Kom has decided to take help from taller male boxers and train with them. “I had done something similar earlier. Will follow that,” she declared.

Change of attitude

While Mary Kom isn’t unduly bothered about the results in 2020 Olympics and says “anything can happen,” she has noticed that the camaraderie between women pugilists was better earlier. “Before, it was good, things were still under control. The attitude was different. Now, they don’t want to help,” she said.

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Mary Kom was critical of the younger generation of boxers. She said: “They only want to focus on themselves and not [on] the country. If this is the mentality, how will things change? In the future, it is difficult to expect much.”

Injury prone

She was sceptical about their fitness levels as well. “I don’t have a problem at all [in recovering]. The young boxers are more [prone] to injuries. [They have] muscle pull, back and all others injuries. I have lesser injuries than them. [I wonder] what they will do at my age,” she said.

Hanna Okhota (left) was a familiar opponent for Mary Kom; it helped her defeat the Ukrainian in the World Championships final. Photo: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

 

The 35-year-old, en route to her sixth World Championship title, had defeated Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota in the final. Okhota was a familiar opponent; Mary Kom had defeated her in September, 2018, at the Silesian Open in Poland by a unanimous decision. She confessed the experience helped her. “In 48 kg category, I didn’t face too tough a competition. The draw was normal for me. The confidence level was high. [The tournament in Poland] really helped me. I never fought the Chinese before; they are smart, clever and intelligent, but I am better than them in terms of quality and experience,” she said.

‘Tension’

But Mary Kom had to contend with distractions. While training for the Worlds, Mary Kom couldn’t attend sessions of the Parliament — she is a member of the Rajya Sabha — and admitted that reports of her absence affected her. “My attendance was being talked about. That added to the tension that why are people writing about such things,” she said.

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After clinching the title, Mary had said she does not feel tired. When asked the secret behind it, Mary Kom joked: “You have to ask God why am I not tired, why I have so much energy!”