There was something so telling to the abundant tears that flowed from an emotional Mary Kom at the AIBA ring on Saturday evening. The joy of being the first woman to win six World Championship gold medals was tempered by a tinge of apprehensive regret that she might find it difficult to deliver more of the yellow metal in Tokyo two years hence. One of sport’s many quirks is that the regulations differ for various competitions.
At the Olympic Games she might have to box (not “fight”) in a higher weight-category than her preferred light-fly (46-48 kgs), and previous essays to tip the scales at 51 kgs have not proved successful. Yet she feels that not bagging an Olympic gold (she has managed a comparatively lowly bronze) would be denying India due recognition ~ as well as leave a blank space in her personal log.
It is that commitment ~ which John McEnroe had dubbed “A Rage for Perfection” ~ that marks the “maharani” from Manipur unique. Comparisons are never pleasant, but no other Indian sportswoman appears to be so dedicatedly inspired. That, as much as her glorious track-record, makes her a living legend.
Mary Kom does not try to wish away the “downs” in her career, deals with her many successes in the same loving way as she treats her three children, husband, and family members. Even as Mary basks in a rare brand of glory she does not permit her special accomplishments to “run away” with her head. Not that she is given to being affectation- induced self-effacing. Not only does she know how good she is, she is also conscious of the very hard work she continues to put in to remain at the top of the tree, to keep her talent honed to ensure that she wins the approval of the judges. A top boxer knows the criticality of perfect balance. To Mary Kom’s infinite credit she has secured that balance in the “square jungle”, as well as in life itself.
As in all tournaments some of the judges’ decisions were vociferously questioned in New Delhi, “home crowd pressure” was obvious, but no one questioned Mary’s overall superiority. The coaches of other teams were unstinted in their praise: one likened her to Sachin Tendulkar, another to Deigo Maradona. But a rival whom she outpointed on her way to the gold medal put it perfectly ~ “She is Mary Kom, simply the best”.
It was so unlike New Delhi that no political bigwigs were at the arena to muscle their way to medal-awarding ceremonies, nor were a hoot of laudatory messages released to the media to secure some reflected glory. Actually, that only added to Mary’ magnificence. The winter session of Parliament is at hand, no other “sitting member” has done either House so proud with skillful, powerful punching that never transgresses the rules.