It’s hardly an ideal training session for an Olympic hopeful, but then glory never came easily for Kom. From her beginnings as a poor farmers’ daughter in a remote and troubled corner of India, “Magnificent Mary” has fought her way up to become five-time world boxing champion.
The mum-of-two is now tipped as her country’s best bet to win gold at London 2012 — a position few could envisage when she began learning to box.
“People were discouraging me, saying in India there are no women boxers. That was my first challenge. I took the challenge, I had to prove myself,” she said. She now hopes to make her home state even prouder. To compete at the London Games, where women’s boxing is a full Olympic medal event for the first time, Kom must qualify at the world championships in China starting on Wednesday.
As she edges towards her Olympic dream, Kom’s drive to be as good as the guys seems to keep her at the top of her game, in a country where “most of the women are looked down on,” she said. “If the men can do it, why can’t the women do it? That’s my main challenge.”