It must be an absolute test of restraint to save her punches exclusively for the ring. Armed with a mean straight punch and a wickedly potent left hook, not to mention her dancing footwork, very few can escape M.C. Mary Kom’s striking range. Yet, after five World Championships and an Olympic bronze medal, the fiery Manipuri was forced to prove herself all over again, even before heading to Incheon for the Asian Games. Patience was needed to battle the odds and stand her ground against scheming officials who had — in whispers — declared that Mary Kom was past her best.
Having delivered her third child and out of international competition since the London Games, Mary had complained about boxing officials giving her grief: the selection trial dates were pushed around, and she was seldom accorded the respect that a champion of her stature deserved. Mary even suspected that a regional lobby was out to edge her out of contention and it was only media pressure that ensured trials were fair. Meanwhile, a splotchy Bollywood movie did little justice to the real story that has made her into a global icon of women’s boxing — the screentime dedicated to her ring triumph s looked like afterthoughts to the script.
Mary Kom needed this Asian Games gold medal — not because she had anything more to prove to the world but because the champion fibre in her incredibly brave body needed to be played out in real-time. Because an adoring audience needed to see that her life’s struggles were raw and real and not contrived and reel, and respect her as much as they loved her. Her gold medal — India’s seventh — matters, because it speaks about a nation’s pride in a woman who refuses to give up or give in.