Mary Kom was in Hong Kong last week and HKYantoYan had the amazing opportunity to meet and speak with her. A true hero, she was humble and passionate about the life she has chosen. Hear what she has to say about her journey in our interview with Mary Kom, and how she became the boxing superstar as we know her today:
HKYantoYan: Tell us about your overall journey and much deserved celebrity status?
Mary Kom: As a woman and a mother, it has been a very long journey; hard, tough and many challenges along the way. I’ve had to fight all my life in order to prove my worth to others, but thankfully all that effort has paid off. For women the battle is twice as difficult, especially after marriage. There are so many women who do not get any support from their families in the matter of pursuing their dreams. I feel extremely fortunate that I have a husband and family who have supported me throughout all my life choices. Also, I’d like to extend my gratitude to the Indian Boxing Federation and my sponsors for being indispensable to my achievements.
HKYY: Tell us about your training routine?
MK: My routines differ dramatically, depending on whether I’m training or at home. At home, I often find myself wanting to spend the maximum amount of time with my family. As a daughter, wife and mother, I feel responsible for making sure those I love get the care they deserve. However, when I’m training, I devote my full attention to it. I love training. It allows me to dedicate myself towards refining my skills and working on my weaknesses, as well as improving my strength and stamina.
HKYY: How do you stay motivated?
MK: I believe that it’s partially a gift from God, and partially sheer dedication. I’ve managed to get here on my own, due to my hard work and struggle. I used to take motivation in thinking that if there were others who could do it, then so could I. This kept me going. God has been very kind; He has always been with me whether through rain or shine. Make no mistake, boxing is hard. There may be some girls who might care more about their looks, but that has never been the case for me. I do not care how I look. All I care about is working harder and proving myself each and every time I get in the ring.
I came from a family where no one had fixed incomes. My father was a farmer and my mother was a housewife. Thus, I wanted to contribute to my family in some way; I wanted to get a job to help them. But in Manipur it’s so hard to get a job, the corruption level is very high. That led me to think that if I made the sports quota, it would be easier for me to find a job. That’s how it all started.
HKYY: What is your vision for Manipur and wider India?
MK: The current situation on the ground isn’t good. It’s tragic how many senseless killings take place there on a daily basis. We are always anxious about our families’ well being. If I am away on tour or training, and something comes up in the news, it can become hard to concentrate on my boxing as I get antsy about my family’s safety. I want peace in Manipur and unity among the citizens. All I can do is pray.
HKYY: What do you think needs to be done to improve sports in India?
MK: We need to remove politics from the games. I have seen the realities of the situation first-hand, and it was a consistent stumbling block throughout my journey. I think if the politics were removed, we as a country could do a lot better.
Also, none of the major sports brands are handing us any kind of support. I was heartbroken when I was told that there would be no sponsorship offers despite our achievements.
HKYY: How did your feel about a Bollywood movie being made on your life?
MK: I was very happy and really hoped that people would like it. My intention for agreeing to the movie’s production was to inspire people – especially young girls. I think that message came through and I was really happy that people liked my story.
Message for women: Women are coming up in every field, which is incredible compared to just a few decades ago. By definition, taking up a profession is not easy. But if there’s something I want my experiences to impress upon others, it’s this: If others can do it, why can’t I? If I could become a professional boxer through hard work, then you should believe that you can succeed in your respective fields as well, no matter where you came from.
HKYY: You have come to HK to raise funds for your boxing academy? How is it that coming along?
MK: I am truly happy to be here. My boxing school is my dream, and I thank everyone who has made it possible for me to be here, from the bottom of my heart . India lacks adequate infrastructure in sports, especially in boxing. Very few states in India have proper boxing facilities. As I was making my name in the world of sports, I was constantly considering how I could give back to society – at least in boxing. We have been giving out free training and providing free accommodation to children who are interested in the art of boxing; and now, we are even providing free education. Most of them were raised in poor environments and hail from backgrounds just like mine, so I want them to achieve something through their own efforts that they can be proud of.
This interview was conducted at a recent FIPHK event.