As we revealed in these pages earlier this week, Edenderry in County Offaly will host an International Female Boxing sparring camp 22nd /29th August and we can now bring the sensational news that Team India’s 20 woman squad will include the famous 5 time World champion Mary Kom, the only woman apart from our own Katie Taylor to have won a women’s World title at five editions of the AIBA World Championships.
This will be a dream come true for young (and not so young) autograph hunters in or around Edenderry in late August as Mary, who now also has her own Centre of Excellence in her home state, has also recently signified that not only has she no plans to retire just yet but also she intends to try and qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
So what do we know of Mary Kom? Her story is one that should be a great inspiration to young women everywhere for it is by any standards an amazing one.
The Boxing Federation of India explain here:
“Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom revered as Magnificent Mary or popularly known as Mary Kom, is an Indian boxer from the state of Manipur. Her parents earned their livelihood by working in jhum fields. Growing up, Mary used to help her parents both on and off the fields- cutting woods, making charcoal, fishing and babysitting her siblings.
Right from her early childhood she displayed skills in athletics but did not have the support system required to nourish such talent. Her first public victory in boxing came in the year 2000 when she won the Manipur state women’s boxing championship. From thereon she made her international debut at the first AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in the United States, where she won a silver medal in the 48 kg weight category. This was followed up with a gold medal in the 45 kg class at the second AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in Turkey in 2002.
In 2003, she took home another medal at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship in India, and was awarded the national Arjuna Award for outstanding sporting achievement. She has won gold medals in three consecutive years (2004-2006) at separate international boxing events. Two years later she won the fourth successive gold medal at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championship in China, followed by a fifth one at the 2009 Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam.
In 2010, Kom won the gold medal at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship in Kazakhstan and her fifth consecutive gold at the AIBA championship. In 2012, she competed in the women’s boxing event in the Summer Olympics, coming in third and garnering her first Olympic medal. SportsPro has rated Mary Kom as the 38th most remarkable athlete in the world. In order to honour the boxer, the lane routing to Manipur Sports Village has been named as Mary Kom Road”.
She is also a Member of the Indian Parliament and fights the causes of her constituents as fiercely as she fights in the ring. She received the ‘Legends Award’ from the International Boxing Association (AIBA) on its 70th anniversary on December 20 last . The five-time world champion, Mary Kom is also Rajya Sabha MP now.
“I would like to thank the AIBA President and officials for this prestigious award. This recognition from AIBA will encourage young boxers in our country to work hard. It is a very emotional as well as a motivating day for me,” Mary Kom when receiving her award and of course she also has been subject of an internationally acclaimed film of her life.
“Even after so many years, if people remember you and your achievements it shows their generosity and love towards me. Thank you once again for this award, it’s a memory I would cherish for my lifetime”
As Mary Kom turns 34, she has not given up hopes of an Olympic gold medal. She is still training hard and is preparing for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with the dream of an Olympic gold medal.
Along with her training and hard work, prayers of millions of Indians will always be there with her. This is what probably keeps her going when age is not on her side, she recently told Indian sports media outlets.
Like Katie Taylor she was once very ‘quiet and reserved’ but not very confident and never afraid to speak out for a good cause. : “I was the David who took on the Goliaths in the boxing ring – and I won, most of the time.” Her fans and well-wishers will hope that she wins for one final time at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and hear the Indian national anthem during the medal distribution ceremony”.
The 20 strong Indian team and their coaches are using the Edenderry Tournament as the perfect training base for tournaments in Europe this Summer and Autumn so let us ensure that they receive a warm welcome from all Irish boxing fans and from the IABA and congratulations to Liam Morley Brereton and his club colleagues for bringing such a distinguished heroine to millions the world over to Ireland in August.
Who next for Edenderry Liam? Perhaps Katie Taylor, the only other female 5 time world champion and who knows by the next training camp Katie might, just might, also be a World Pro champion?