With the latest buzz about Sanjay Leela Bansali’s upcoming movie based on the life of Mary Kom, it feels only fit to remember a great lady, who symbolizes woman power and inspires women all across the globe.
By power I really mean power, she is not only an Indian boxer, but five-time World Amateur Boxing champion.
Born on 1st March 1983 in Manipur, India, she is the only Indian woman boxer to have won a medal in each of the six boxing championships.
Though we have heard stories about legendary women such as Hepburn and like, we also know how they form the epitome of women empowerment and guide the women of today, Mary Kom is a women not only dedicated towards her own personal excellence but also of people around her.
Born to landless farmers, she helped her parents on the fields and cutting wood. After failing in her exams of IX and X she decided to take a different path in life. As a child Mary, or magnificent Mary as she is nick named, she had an interest in athletics, however it was only after the success of Dingko Singh that she decided to go for boxing.
Well there is a huge disparity in salaries that women are being paid for various jobs, to further traumatize the issue there are only a few professions that women are expected to opt for. To go for something unconventional, a girl has to fight her way through the world and even her family, as was the case of our magnificent Mary.
Boxing being a taboo for women of her time, you can imagine the response she would have received when she put forward her desire to become a boxer. “You should not expect to get married” was what her father said.
Here we come across yet another mindset that poses a big threat to the advancement of women of our country. A woman, before thinking about what she wants and what she desire, is expected to think if it would affect her ‘about-to-be’ married life. It sometimes amuses me how much do we live in the future and sacrifice so must in the present, yet knowing future is uncertain and is something we have no control over.
Well, however somehow after a lot of persuasion she was able to convince her father to let her go for it. And what happened after that is history. Her list of achievements would exhaust the entire article or may be even more than that.
Here I would like to quote one of Mary’s most famous lines “People used to say that boxing is for men and not women and I thought I will show them someday. I promised myself and I proved myself”
She not only overcame the obstacles that life brought to her but also come out with flying colors.
As I have previously stated that she is not someone who focused solely on her own personal growth, she also inspires many others through her autobiography, named “Unbreakable”. The title seems well justified with the life she is leading. The book recapitulates her struggles as a girl in a poor family and how she did cut her way through the stereotypes that she had to face as a woman.
She is married to K Onler Kom and has two kids, she returned to the field after a two year maternity leave which in itself is a big challenge. She was the one to say “If I, being a mother of two, can win a medal, so can you all. Take me as an example and don’t give up”
Mary was an ordinary woman who went on to do make extraordinary achievements. She accepts how marriage and motherhood posed big challenge to her. However she gives the credit to her family and friends for their constant support and love. She was the woman with not only a strong body, as many would expect out of a boxer, but a strong heart too. It is not only the physical strength that is needed by a woman to succeed in her life. To put in her words I would say
“To be a successful boxer one must also have a strong heart. Some women are physically strong but fail when it comes to having a strong heart.”
Mary Kom gives us a perfect example of how a woman can be a successful mother and woman at the same time if she surrounds herself with the right people. There was a time when her four year old son was hospitalized and Mary fought in the Asian Cup women’s boxing tournament in Haikou, China, while her son cheered her from the hospital bed. What Mary says is “Don’t give up there is always a next time. Think that if Mary Kom a mother of two, can do it, why can’t you?”
Perhaps yes, every woman can achieve the same heights if people around her support her in the same manner as they do Mary. So for now woman have to keep the struggle for such a society going on and hope that someday we would wake up in a world where woman is not expected to be what the world expects her to be, rather free herself from these shackles of bondage and aim for the sky.