India’s sportswomen have never before scaled their present heights. On the cricket and hockey fields, the badminton courts and shooting ranges have they so excelled that names like Mithali Raj, PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal ~ to name just a few ~ have become household terms. Perhaps only PT Usha of yesteryear had earned such accolade.

True champions, however, are those who have taken adversity in their stride and regained their winning ways ~ and in that department boxer MC Mary Kom stands taller than all her sporting compatriots. Her winning a fifth “gold” at the recent Asian Championships at Ho Chi Minh City stamps her unique, she stood at the top of the tree after a few years on the sidelines. And at 34 years of age the mother of three has set her sights on other international tournaments ~ no, she is not ageless but exudes a determination that would be the envy of many a younger rival.

To list her successes would be a lengthy affair, what matters is how she adapted herself to varying demands ~ including “gaining weight” because a few competitions did not cater to her natural weight-category.

Fortunately she is now back to where she is most comfortable, and successful. “Every medal I have won” said the woman with a rich haul of them “has been a story of a struggle” and noted that her most recent was her first after ascending from boxing to the crimson-carpeted chamber of the Rajya Sabha. That was indeed a rare first ~ a sitting Indian MP on the winner’s podium at an international sports event. And unlike other “sporting MPs” she takes her parliamentary duties very seriously, even if she has not yet made a speech of great significance.

Perhaps it is because of her humble origins that she appreciates the “struggles” about which she waxes eloquent. That a leading star of the silver screen “played her” in a popular biopic has not affected a simple, honest, person.

And apart from her own boxing she runs an academy, looks after a family etc. Boxing is not just a physical and mentally demanding sport, it is one that builds character. Even the most accomplished champion knows he/she can be hit by an opponent, and every punch can hurt.

Women’s boxing in India is yet to become a money-spinning glamour sport, all the more reason to appreciate Mary Kom’s longevity in the ring: she has won more than most other competitors but remains committed to training hard for even further success.

She has been described as the Muhammad Ali of women’s boxing, which is a trifle unfair because she has her own claim to fame ~ the indefatigable MC Mary Kom, the woman from Manipur who attained global glory.