MC Mary Kom marched with single-minded intent to a record-breaking 8th World Championship medal this week. This glorious achievement has come in three weight divisions — pin-weight (45 kg), light-flyweight (48 kg) and now the flyweight (51 kg). She was already the best female boxer beating Irish legend, Katie Taylor’s, count of six medals, picking the seventh last time. But beating back all mutterings about her capabilities, magnificent Mary assured herself of the eighth, waving a cheery goodbye to Cuban heavyweight Felix Savon, with seven medals from his 20 years of amateur pugilism.
It only needed to be pointed out that none of her medals had come in the Olympic classification of 51 kg, and there she was in Ulan Ude, Russia, thumping the 2016 Games’ bronze medallist, Columbia’s Valencia Victoria, by a unanimous 5-0 verdict. For two decades now, that’s what Mary Kom has done — danced around the ring, proving doubters wrong. She has won world medals when women’s boxing was not in the Olympics. Then, when it got included, when she could lord over others in 48 kg, her natural weight, and now when she faces taller and stronger women in 51 kg — often those who scale down from 60 kg retaining their punching prowess even if the weight was down. She’s won medals as a late teen, as a mother of twins, and now at 36 after a break when she was an MP in Rajya Sabha.
Mary Kom has been told to leave it to younger contenders. To gracefully make way. To rest on her laurels. With this medal, she has earned the right to slam the door on pretenders and their Twitter amplifiers. For if she can’t inspire love, she’ll make do with instilling fear by waving yet one more medal at critics and opponents.