Ace Indian pugilist Mary Kom has been an icon in the sport of boxing for over a decade and a half and is in fact one of the greatest boxers that the country has produced. She, however, still wonders how she has ended up dedicating her life to sports given that no girl in her village played sports.

“I was always interested in sports but I never really knew the role of sports and its benefits,” Mary said in an online video interaction for Unacademy app on Wednesday.

“I just loved playing with the boys in my village because girls never played. The situation in my childhood was totally different from what it is now, only boys would be playing outside.

“God chose me for sports I think. Because there can’t be any other reason that I would enter sports and end up spending my entire life in it. So I had never imagined that I would be making a career like this. Slowly I started understanding the benefits of sports, that if you do well in it, you get better job opportunities. If you excel in sports, you excel in life.”

The 37-year-old stated that it was hard to spot any fellow female boxer when she had taken her initial steps in her sporting journey.

“This sport is a male-dominated one. It is mostly considered a man’s sport. So initially when I started boxing, it was very difficult. There would be one or two girls training apart from me so I had to train with boys. So all I want to say is that boxing is not a man’s sport. If men can play, then why can’t women play,” she said.

It is worth highlighting that Mary is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships and the only boxer- male or female- to have as many as eight World Championships medals. Six of these eight medals, the most for any boxer at the World Championships.