Punch it like Mary Kom

Published: Dec 14, 2013, 07:34 IST | Fiona Fernandez |

MC Mary Kom's rise to superstardom is a chronicle that is etched in blood, sweat, and tears. From her humble beginnings in Manipur to Olympic glory in a sport hardly pursued by Indian women, the pugilist has broken new ground within and outside the ring. Excerpts from an interview with Fiona Fernandez

What was going through your mind as you came to the end of writing this autobiography? Did you find yourself at a loss for words, at any point?
I feel there are many youngsters and women in this nation who aspire to achieve something big in their lives. But they are afraid of the challenges that come in their path. I wish to share my story with those people and tell them how challenges become your strength to meet the objective.
And yes, I was loss at a loss for words, as I didn’t know how to express the emotional pain that I had faced while facing those challenges.

MC Mary Kom
MC Mary Kom. Pic/Pradeep Dhivar

When you decided to take up boxing, you must’ve been aware of the bias and prejudices, especially since India is a cricket crazy country, plus, you are a woman and more importantly, that you were taking up boxing at that time. Your thoughts...
I am aware that India is cricket crazy but I wanted to show that India has got talent in many other sports, and not just cricket. Every sport has its own place and I want to give boxing its due and now, I feel that India has got the right definition of sports.

Mary Kom with husband Onler Karong, who has been supportive her throughout her career. Pic courtesy/Harpercollins India

How much do you feel your humble background, grounded lifestyle, simple childhood and religion played in contributing to your success?
It made me work harder and I came out stronger. My religion also teaches me the right approach and the way. So yes, it has contributed to my success by becoming my strength.

Take us back to when you represented India for the first time, on an international stage. Also, how did it feel after winning your first medal?
I was feeling proud and nervous at the same time. It was my first chance to prove myself, not only to the nation, or to my family but also to my own self.
After winning my first ever medal, I was very happy and realised that this is just the beginning and the journey is going to be harder from here.

Unbreakable, MC Mary Kom, HarperCollins India, Rs 199. Available in leading bookstores

What message do you have for Indian women who are keen to pursue a sport or a profession but hesitate because of social responsibilities to the family, which might include opposition and later, marriage?
My message to all Indian women is that if you are passionate about something and your heart beats for that one thing, then pursue it. Sooner or later, everyone will be proud of you and then they will support you instead of stopping you. A sport is no more the same as it was five years back. It can promise you the best career you’ll ever have if you are devoted to it.

You’ve written in Unbreakable that you find Hindi movies boring. And now, Priyanka Chopra will be portraying your life in a film. Your comments.
I find Hindi movies boring when there is less action in the movie. I like watching action, and Priyanka Chopra will be doing the same in the film. I am very confident that she will do a great job and this will become my favourite Hindi movie (laughs).

Quick jabs

Favourite cuisine / food
I love non-vegetarian food in general. My favourite cuisine is our local food.

Favourite way to unwind
With family, doing regular things. Cooking, laughing, talking, watching soaps, bringing up my children, paying attention to my husband Onler, listening to music, singing.

Favourite holiday destination

Favourite musician/ singer / actor
AR Rahman, Lata Mangeshkar

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