M C Mary Kom said Saturday she has transformed from being a “bullfighter to a smarter pugilist” and that the ability to out-think her opponents helped her in becoming one of the world’s best amateur boxers of all time.
Mary Kom, who claimed an unprecedented sixth gold by winning the 48kg summit bout in the Women’s World Championships, said she became a smarter fighter in the later part of her career.
“If you see my bouts in the initial seven years of my career and now, you will see a lot of difference. Earlier, I was like a bull fighter. I was always charging and I would be totally tired and could not even raise my hand after the fight,” she said after winning a record sixth gold in the showpiece.
“Now, I am smarter and try to find out the game of my opponent and then think out mine in the ring itself. Nowadays, it is not that tiring also unlike when I was younger.
“It is all about experience and one learns from experience. These younger girls will also learn from experience,” she said, referring to the other three Indian medal winners Lovlina Borgohain, Sonia Chahal and Simranjit Kaur, who were sitting by her side.
Mary Kom said there is a lot of work to be done as she has to jump to the higher 51kg category to qualify for the 2020 Olympics. The 48kg is not in the Olympics. Her bronze in the Olympics also came in 51kg in the 2012 Games.
“I have fought in 48kg for many years but this is not in Olympics. I had to jump weight to 51kg three years back. I have to go back to 51kg to be able to compete in 2020 Olympics. Getting a gold in Tokyo will not be easy but I will try my best,” said Mary Kom who was adjudged the best boxer of the championships.
“In 51kg, the boxers are taller and stronger and I have to beat them. That gives advantage in 48kg,” the feisty Manipuri, who turned 36 on Saturday, said.
Mary Kom is expected to compete in the 51kg in the next World Championships in Russia in 2019 as well as the continental championships which India is bidding to host. Both the events will be 2020 Olympics qualifiers.
‘Magnificent Mary’ did not know which among the six gold medals was tougher to get but said this one was really difficult as she was carrying the pressure of expectations.
She won her first World Championships medal — a silver — in the inaugural edition in 2001. She then went on to win five gold in the next five editions — 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
“It is difficult to remember the earlier gold medals but this one is very tough because of the pressure and change of weight also. I won my last World Championships gold in 2010 and then there is this change of weight category for Olympics. There was pressure on me and I don’t know how to put this gold alongside the earlier five,” she added.
“I won five gold on the trot. Katie Taylor (of Ireland) had not done like that,” she said.
Taylor won five gold and a bronze between 2006 and 2016 in 60kg. She now plies her trade in the professional circuit.
Talking about the earlier World Championships held here in 2006, Mary Kom said, “That time there were few boxers and countries competing. We won eight medals with four gold but now competition is stronger. Winning four medals with one gold this time is a very good result.
“Organisation wise, this one is better than the 2006 one.”
Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh, who was sitting beside Mary Kom, said that world body AIBA has described this championships as the best ever.
Asked about the need for more transparency in judging, Singh said, “I believe there were more consistency of the results at the later stages of the tournament. There are areas where there can be improvement. The AIBA is seized with the matter. Here, we feel we can take help of technology.
“When the Indian Boxing League starts in July (next year) we will do some experiment by using technology to improve on transparency in judging.”