India’s ‘Magnificent Mary’ fights to the end for Olympic boxing glory

NEW DELHI: Indian boxing queen Mary Kom is mustering the courage and power to make one final bid for an Olympic gold medal in Tokyo at the age of 38.

Kom’s story of fortune became legend when she won a bronze medal at the London Games in 2012, the first time women’s boxing was an Olympic event.

A Bollywood film – “Mary Kom” – was shot about her life in 2014 with Priyanka Chopra in the lead role and fans kept the faith even when she failed to win a spot at the Rio 2016 Games. .

“Magnificent Mary,” as the national treasure is called, honored them when she won a record-breaking sixth world title in 2018.

She will now be India’s flag bearer alongside men’s hockey captain Manpreet Singh at the Tokyo Opening Ceremony before competing in the 51kg flyweight competition.

Kom knows this will be the last roll of the dice, but he’s determined.

“I will step in the ring to fight for gold, to make us all proud again,” Kom, a mother of four, said on Twitter.

“Tokyo will be my last Olympics,” she told the Olympic Channel. “Age matters here. I’m 38 now, I’m going to be 39. Four more years is a long time. “

Kom said she was “pretty sure I won’t be allowed to do this even though I’m ready to continue until Paris 2024”.

Kom will face fierce competition from Turkish frontrunner Buse Naz Cakiroglu – who beat Kom in the semifinals of the 2019 world championships – but India is still willing to take care of her darling.

Vijender Singh, boxing bronze medalist at the 2008 Beijing Games, is confident Kom will succeed.

“The sports fraternity of India is with her. She has an Olympic medal under her belt and has a lot of experience, ”Singh told AFP.

Akhil Kumar, who won gold at the 2006 Commonwealth Games, predicts two boxing medals for India in Tokyo, with Kom winning one of them.

Kom, from a poor village in the northeastern state of Manipur, won a silver medal at the inaugural Women’s World Championships in 2001, which kicked off her international career.

She went on to win gold at each of the following five world championships and clinched her sixth title in 2018.

The petite fighter – measuring just five feet two inches (1.58 meters) – broke gender stereotypes simply by breaking into male-dominated sport, then achieved international success while managing her role as a mother.

Kom was the star of the opening ceremony of the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 even though women’s boxing was still excluded.

The veteran boxer said the Olympics changed her career path.

“Becoming an Olympian and winning bronze has also changed my life,” she said. “It also inspired many women to take up sports, especially boxing. I feel proud.

“I want more girls to come out and fight. Hope there are no restrictions for them to come out and fight for themselves and their country. “

Kom became the first Indian female boxer to win a gold medal at the Asian Games in 2014 and also triumphed at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

She went from her favorite category of 48kg to 51kg in pursuit of Olympic glory – there were only three weight divisions in women’s boxing in 2012.

In London, only 12 boxers took part in the flyweight event but the competition has intensified and there are five rounds in Tokyo.

Kom has her work cut out for her, but she has the weight of a nation behind her. – AFP

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