Your Story is a series by WonderfulWomen where you will read inspiring Guest Posts from women around the world. Here they share their experiences, stories and things that matter most to all women.
Today’s Guest Post is by Priya Ghosh. Priya is a writer, blogger and lady of the house 9living an easy-going life in Mumbai, India with a wonderful man and a cute 2-year-old gentleman. Check out her inspiring quotes and posts on her blog or subscribe to her YouTube channel for new motivational videos. In her free time, she likes to – Oh wait! Moms have no free time 😉
Today I’m going to share with you the inspirational story of a woman who is a five-time World Boxing champion and Olympics bronze medalist. She has kicked against the myth that a woman has to sacrifice her family to make her career. Mary Kom– The boxing legend of India has inspired every kid to pursue boxing. She has battled her struggles with poverty and played multiple roles of a daughter, sister, and mother.
Who inspired Mary Kom?
Just like how many look up to Mary Kom as their role model, Mary also has someone to take inspiration from. Dingko Singh, an Indian boxer born in Manipur won gold at the 1998 Bangkok Asian Games. He ended India’s 16-year wait for an Asian Games boxing victory. This ignited passion in Mary to take up boxing professionally and enhance her boxing skills. Her other inspiration is Muhammad Ali which makes her want to aim higher in life.
She started her training under M Narjit Singh, Manipur State Boxing Coach.
Overcoming all hurdles
Considering Mary Kom’s background, her success story is even more inspiring because she has defied all odds and preferred to move ahead.
- Poor family- Mary comes from a poor background, who couldn’t afford the proper sports gears to pursue her passion. She had to fight financial hurdles by working in the fields, cutting woods, and fishing. Being the eldest, she also had to look after her two younger sisters and a brother.
- Hid her passion from family– Initially, Mary had no support from her family. She had to hide and practice boxing. It was only when a newspaper published her name after she won the Manipur State Boxing championship in 2000 that her family came to know about her interest, which also got discouraged by her father at first.
“I AM TOUGH BECAUSE OF MY BACKGROUND. THEY MADE ME WHO I AM TODAY. THEY GAVE ME THE STRENGTH TO KEEP FIGHTING. INDEED, THEY MADE ME WANT TO FIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE.”- Mary Kom.
- Pushing the limits of MOTHERHOOD- In today’s time when some women prefer not to have a child to make their career, Mary has set an example by juggling all her struggles and emerging as a doting mother and a successful career woman. She is not only a mother of 3 sons but also an active MP. She has bagged the world championship not once, but five times.
Can you believe this? Mary had to make the difficult decision of going to China for the Asian Cup while leaving behind her ailing son who underwent a heart surgery in Chandigarh. Thankfully everything turned out for the best. Mary won the gold and the surgery went successfully too.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) rightfully nicknamed her as the ‘Magnificent Mary’ in 2010.
- Male dominated sport– Mary had many hurdles to cross especially being a woman in India. Hailing from the Kom-Kuki tribe in Manipur, she had to fight the society’s norm of entering a male’s domain sport. But with her firm determination, she changed the image of boxing by being at the top of international woman’s boxing for the last 10 years, winning the World Boxing Championship 5 times.
“PEOPLE USED TO SAY THAT BOXING IS FOR MEN AND NOT FOR WOMEN AND I THOUGHT I WILL SHOW THEM SOMEDAY. I PROMISED MYSELF AND I PROVED MYSELF.”- Mary Kom.
Awards and recognitions:
- The International Boxing Association (AIBA) announced Mary Kom as the brand ambassador for 2016 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships
- Padma Bhushan (Sports), 2013
- Arjuna Award (Boxing), 2003
- Padma Shri (Sports), 2006
- Contender for Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, 2007
- People of the Year- Limca Book of Records, 2007
- CNN-IBN & Reliance Industries’ Real Heroes Award 14.4. 2008 Mon
- Pepsi MTV Youth Icon 2008
- ‘Magnificent Mary’, AIBA 2008
- Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, 2009
- International Boxing Association’s Ambassador for Women’s Boxing 2009 (TSE 30 July 2009 Thur)
- Sportswoman of the year 2010, Sahara Sports Award
Inspiring lessons we can take from Mary Kom-
- Be grateful, always– Even after such fame and reputation, Mary never forgets to mention the helpful people throughout her life. As mentioned in her autobiography- the Unbreakable, Mary is ever grateful to her husband Onler who gave up his career for her, family, sponsors, coaches at SAI, as well as others. This particular quality of her makes her humble and modest.
- Give back to the society– Yes she earned a lot after winning a gold medal, but she provided maximum help to her father, siblings and even her brother in law’s family. She has paid back to the community by opening the Mary Kom Boxing Academy which trains young students to become promising boxers. She intends to support underprivileged children by providing them with the best possible facilities and turning them into champions of tomorrow.
- Self-motivation– Mary comes from a village where it was inappropriate for women to pursue boxing. But it was her love for the game which gave her strength throughout.
Even after losing any match this is how she keeps herself motivated- “In such situations, I encourage myself to keep going and work harder. I go back and watch my videos to know the mistakes I have made, and then I focus to fix the techniques where I am lacking. At the same time, I feel one should not be too hard on self. In the end, it’s a game, and winning or losing is a part of it”.
- Work-life balance– It is indeed challenging for Mary to manage her life being a mother of 3 young children, a Rajya Sabha member and her boxing training periods. She does all this diligently with the help of her good support system at home, her husband K Onler Kom. Onler is not only her mentor and manager but also a strong supporter. He has been her pillar of strength throughout her career.
Mary Kom’s advice to women all around the world-
“My message to all the women is that if you are passionate about something and your heart beats for it, then just pursue it. Sooner or later, everyone will be proud of you and will be supportive of you rather than just negating your dreams.
I would also like to give this message to all parents out there that — children either boys or girls — are an inheritance from God. We should respect and accept them both because God has got his own purpose in giving them too us. We need to overcome gender discrimination, female-infanticide and promote humanity.”
Mary Kom- an inspiration to everyone.
Mary Kom has overcome the limitations of coming from a conventional background, poverty, gender bias and many such hardships only to win a medal for her country. Her consistency and positive attitude have truly set standards for women all around the world.
Be like Mary.
Be strong. Be brave. Be badass!
Although the society considers sports and women as two opposite ends of a pole, there are many sportswomen who have paved their way in actively and encouraged others to do so. How much transition do you see in women’s involvement in sports nowadays? Do you have a favorite athlete role model? Comment your thoughts on the potential for women in sports in the future.
Connect with Priya
Her Blog iammyinspiration.com