A group of youngsters hesitantly approached MC Mary Kom with a request to step outside the boxing hall at the National Institute of Sport, Patiala. These fans, who wanted a picture clicked with Mary, had just watched her get the better of Pinki Jangra in the ring and clinch the 51 kg berth for the Incheon Asian Games. Mary, still in her blue vest and shorts, glanced at her husband Onler who nodded.
But just after he had given in to the request of the fans, Onler realised that Mary had not done her post-bout stretching. Before Onler could get Mary back into the hall, the youngsters asked him to become part of the photograph.
Mary gently rested her head on Onler’s shoulder and at this point perhaps the emotion and physical drain of having to prove that she still had what it takes kicked in. Mary started crying. It made for a rare candid picture, one for which any boxing fan who has followed Mary’s rise would give an arm for and a little more. A few minutes earlier these very camera phones had been used to capture pictures of Mary raising her arms in jubilation after seeing off the challenge from Pinki, the younger of the two who had upsurged the senior and even won a bronze at the Commonwealth Games. Mary’s outpouring of emotion was understandable because she had finally put behind the disappointment of missing out on a place in the Indian team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Beating Pinky made the win even sweeter for Mary. “I have been very confident from the beginning and it feels nice to beat Pinky in a bout that some were terming as a revenge match,” Mary said.
Revenge was definitely on Mary’s mind as she stepped inside the ring to take on Pinky. But beating Pinky was no child’s play. Pinky was the form boxer pumped up with the confidence which comes from winning a medal at the Commonwealth Games. Mary was appearing at the trials after a three-month layoff during which she also promoted a to-be released Biopic. Going by the respective showing of the two premier women boxers in this category on the first day of the trials against different opponents, Pinki was the favourite.
Moreover, on Tuesday, Mary had realised that she had dropped to 49 kilograms, which meant that her weight was not optimum for the category in which she was competing. She looked rusty against Sonia Lather. On Wednesday, Mary, 31, looked more the part of a Olympic bronze-medal winner against an opponent nearly seven years her junior.
Till the end of the third round, it was hard to judge who the better boxer was. While Mary relied on her experience and put up a strong defence while Pinky showed exemplary footwork and tried everything to land punches that count. Mary came back strongly every time Pinki managed to land a punch.
It was in the fourth and the last round that Mary proved her class with a straight jab, which was followed by a right hook. Pinki looked rattled. As the referee gave the decision in Mary’s favour, Pinky nodded her head. “I gave my 100 percent. It was up to the judges to decide who was the better boxer today. But I know I will have my chances and I will keep working for it,”Pinki said. Mary, though took a shot at her critics. “There are lots of people who say that Mary is not fit and she should quit. Even at 70 percent I can beat the other boxers in my category.