A sportswoman who has made India proud with her glorious achievements, Mary Kom is a boxer the only Indian woman boxer who managed to qualify for the 2012 Summer Olympics where she also won a Bronze Medal. A five-time world amateur boxing champion, she is surprisingly serene and philosophical about all her achievements. Named as Mangte Chungneijang at birth, she chose the name Mary as she entered the world of professional sports as it was easier to pronounce. Born into a poor family she began helping her parents by working in the fields while still very young. As a school girl she used to play a variety of sports - hockey, football, and athletics - but surprisingly not boxing! When the Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh won a gold at the Asian Games in 1998, the girl was inspired to take up boxing. Still taking up a sport considered masculine by social standards was no easy task for the young tribal girl. But Mary was not someone to be discouraged, and traveled to Imphal to train in athletics. Today her success is for all to see! Of course, there is more to Mary Kom than just professional success - she also teaches boxing to underprivileged youngsters for free.
She was born in Kangathei, Manipur, India to Mangte Tonpa Kom and Mangte Akham Kom who were poor farm laborers. She was named Mangte Chungneijang at birth which means prosperous in her local dialect. However, she would use the name Mary in her professional career for ease of pronunciation.
She was the eldest of four siblings and had to work hard from a young age to fend for her family. She not only went to school to study, but also took care of her younger siblings and worked in the fields with her parents to help them.
She first went to Loktak Christian Model High School where she studied up to class VI standard before moving on to St. Xavier Catholic School. However, she quit studies before completing schooling.
Even as a student she displayed a keen interest in athletics and used to participate in sports like football. Funnily though, she never took part in boxing as a student.In 1998, boxer Dingko Singh won a Gold at the Asian Games and made his motherland proud. This incident inspired her to take up boxing. However, the very task of taking up this sport became a challenge for her as her parents felt boxing was too masculine for a young girl.
Undaunted by the opposition, Mary travelled to Imphal and requested the coach, M. Narjit Singh at Manipur State Boxing to train her. She was passionate about the sport and was a quick learner; she would often practice till late in the night even after the others had left.
Her first career win came in 2000 when she won the Best Boxer Award at the First State Level Invitation at the womens boxing championship in Manipur. After that she proceeded to win the gold in the Seventh East India Womens Boxing Championship held in West Bengal.
A prolific sportswoman who demonstrated a relentless passion for the game, she won a total of five National Championships from 2000 to 2005.
Between 2001 and 2006, she won the AIBA world boxing championship thrice in 2002, 2005 and 2006, and came second in 2001.
In 2008, she participated at the Asian Womens Boxing Championship in India where she won a silver medal. The same year she boxed at the AIBA Womens World Boxing Championship in China where she earned the Gold medalher fourth successive gold medal at the championship.
The coming years were also very productive for the gritty young lady. She went to Vietnam from where she returned with a gold medal at the 2009 Asian Indoor Games.
In Kazakhstan Mary won the gold medal at the Asian Womens Boxing Championship in 2010. Then she proceeded to Barbados to register a career milestoneher fifth consecutive gold at the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championship.
A petite woman, she competed in the 51 kg class in the 2010 Asian Games and won a bronze medal. Again at the Asian Womens Boxing Championship in Mongolia in 2012 she participated in the same weight category and won the gold.
In 2012, womens boxing featured as an Olympic sport in the Summer Olympics in London for the first time. Mary did succeed in securing a place at the events and won a bronze medal. In 2014 Asian Games, held in Incheon, South Korea, she won a Gold Medal in Flyweight category.
She is best known for being a five time World Amateur Boxing Champion, a feat that definitely makes her one of the best ever women boxers the world has ever produced.
Mary Kom was decorated with the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour in 2010 for her contributions to sports.
She was honored with the Padma Bhushan - the third highest civilian award in Indiain 2013 for her wonderful achievements in the field of sports.
She won a Gold Medal in Flyweight category in 2014 Incheon Asian Games.
She met K Onler Kom in 2001 when she was at New Delhi on her way to National Games in Punjab. The young man was highly impressed by Marys grit and ambitions. The couple dated for four years before tying the knot in 2005. They have been blessed with three sons.
Her much awaited autobiography, Unbreakable which chronicles all her lifes struggles and how she rose above them, was released by Harper Collins in 2013.
The famous Indian actor Priyanka Chopra plays this sports woman in a Bollywood movie based on her life.
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