Mary Kom makes Manipur go merry

Published on October 22, 2005

By Lunminthang Haokip

October 22, 2005: The Beginning: What do you say of a country girl of extremely poor parentage who got schooled on behalf of family’s bread and jam at Loktak Christian Model High School and St. Xavier’s Moirang, Manipur, and who switched over her penchant for athletics midway to a passionate love for amateur boxing?

Well, within a span of five sweatingly arduous years, the Kangathei (Ccpur Dist Manipur)-born die-hard boxing aspirant survived several lethal blows of international sting to finally win the 3rd World Women Boxing Championship at Podolsk Moscow, in year 2005. The name is popularly known as M.C.Mary Kom. MC stands for Mangte Chungneijang – a name given at birth by her dear daddy, M. Tonpu Kom, and mother Saneikham Kom. It’s Mary who makes the Mangte family world go merry.

The motivating events: Failing to get through in HSLC exam that she appeared from Adimjati High School, Imphal. Mary had no fervour to repeat class. When the chapter of studies nearly came to a close, National Open School kept her moribund academic hopes alive. Soon the queen of the rings is going to hang her globes up for a while and shift arena to write her plus-two exams. Looking back, her disinterest in a bookish career was a boon for women boxing.

Rounds of severe hard-knocks of life that the ordeals of educating three sisters and one brother with zero income delivered from time to time to the wretched Mangte family, gave Mary a determination of steel. Poor though in diet, she was rich in fighting-in-perseverance. Trained and nurtured by three coaches, Ibomcha, Natjit and Kishen and geared up to full steam by Khoibi Salam, lOA official, Mary, with Laila Ali for a role model, learned the tricks of her trade from the spine-chilling rhythm of pathetic existence and soon surpassed all expectations, including that of her own.

Achievements galore: Ever since she became the State champion in Women boxing in year 2000, Chungneijang never looked back. Her Sania Mirza-like killing instinct, that every opponent is beatable, brought home medals after medals like a skilled hunter who never returns without taking something back. She did Manipur proud by winning five back to back in National championships from 2000 to 2005. Tourneys become her EL Dorado.

Her never-ending gold-rush began with 2nd Asian Women Champ (Hissar) and the trend continued with championship in 3rd Asian Women Boxing Champ (Taiwan). An exceptional silver break in 1st Women World Boxing Champ (USA) was soon followed by golden come-backs in 2nd Women World Boxing Champ (Turkey), 2nd Women World Boxing Tourney (Norway) and Witch Cup Women Boxing champ (Hungary). Since then, it was gold all the way for the good bold Kangathei-girl who had no silver coin in her pocket to buy edibles during school-days.

Never say die: Attitude is vital for one to make it big in life and Mary had a solid one firmly anchored in the unsinkable ship of her fortitude. She never allowed set-backs of life to let her go off the track of her ambition. Impulses to give up were there. Trying circumstances threatened to throw her off-balance into the dark pit of defeatist mind-set. But the prayer-support of her parent church, her parents and well wishers in MBC kept her going.

When requirements to carry her own pocket money (at least Rs. 20,000 per domestic event and Rs. 60,000 per International event) were made known ready-to-help relatives and Church people never let Mary down. In her own words, “At times when I was pitted against well-groomed international boxers, I felt dwarfed and incompetent. But remembrance of the story of little David who shot down mighty Goliath gave me a shot in the arm.

Ignoring ignorance: Memories of Indian sports-persons whose bronze and silver medals in international meets had been hailed to the hilt are too fresh to be ignored in contrast to the poor response Mary got in her recent 46 kg category triumph in Moscow. The otherwise fun-loving pugilist is a trifle sad that pre-championship promises made by corporate houses are not kept. When it comes to placement, the best Mary got offered was that of a head constable.

With due respect to police constabulary, considering her achievements, that is another case of offering too little too late for Mary. Some expectations still remain a dream and dreams die first in her slippery world of being knocked about. Her living conditions are far from comfortable. But it’s when the going gets tough, the tough like Mary get going. She draws solace from Habakuk 3:17,19, “Although the fig tree shall not blossom…. The fields yield no meat…I will rejoice in the Lord… the Lord God is my strength”.

Acts of appreciation: Coming close to the heels of Baichung Bhutia in whose name a football stadium had been christened, the Government of Manipur recognized Mary Kom’s achievement by naming the approach road of Games Village as Mary Kom road. On top of that, as if they sensed her accommodation woes, Manipur’s Youth Affair and Sports Dept gifted a 13 lakh A-class PDA quarter (A 112-zone-II G/village) to Mary into which she hopes to move in soon.

Not to be outdone, the Tatas offered a periodical contract job which the poverty-stricken sportsperson may as well accept if it’s to be made a permanent assignment later. Feeling that she didn’t get rewards due to her, the knock-out champ said she will hang her gloves up for good if no fitting job comes her way.

Occupational hazards: In this lop-sided age of eve-teasing, Adams are getting curiouser and bolder. Being born a girl, for many, is a burden in itself. Vulnerable targets of male-mischief, aggrieved young lasses almost get reconciled to their fate of being roadside romeos’ delight. But Mary Kom was no coy damsel to tolerate none sense silently.

In a rickshaw-ride from SAI colony, Imphal to MBC Church-service, one Sunday morning, the cycle-rickshaw puller who droved her crossed boundaries of decency in his bid to act fresh. Scarce able to bear the filthy language, the boxer in Mary delivered punches hot and cold on the poor daily-wage earner who had to gasp for breath at the end of the 1st round. Bruised and badly injured, the opponent collapsed before the second round was belled. Boys beware, your cool teasing can land a hot punch on your chin.

Name is Mary: History and society had many bloody Marys. But this Mary is a blessed one. Mary Kom the mother of Jesus said in Lk. 1 :46, “My soul doth magnify my Lord”. Mary, the God-fearing pugilist, too did her bit in confessing her Lord. Having a faithful (now hubby) mentor in K. Onkholer to boost her morale, Chungneijang never lacked support in management of her career in amateur boxing. At Hissar, Onkholer had “Jesus 100 percent” written on Mary’s gown.

That she had the faith to confess her Lord Jesus was evidenced by the open display of these words on the back of her shirt, “Jesus is my strength” in the Hyderabad national championship she won. It gives pep to the soul when one watches on TV her praying in the ring before a light and praising God alter knocking someone down. Mary’s secret seems to be, “‘Seven days without prayer makes one weak?” Her strength seems to lie in awareness of this fact.

Mary makes Manipur go merry: “‘Queen of the ring”, NE Sun splashed moments of the all-opponent smashing skilled boxer’s triumph in Moscow. The week, the south-Indian mag, followed suit with an article (Stinging Queen Bees) on boxing with Mary’s achievements prominently interspersed. The people and administration of Sadar Hills, Manipur gave Mary a “hero’s welcome” at Kangpokpi with speeches by circle MLA, Mr. Thangminlen Kipgen, and ADC/Kangpokpi.

In the felicitation jamboree, top class Gospel singers, Chachan Khongsai, Esther Sitlhou, Betsy Haokip and Chongboi Haokip mesmerized the sun-exposed mammoth gathering with their fabulous numbers. In the historic reception, this author appealed to the audience at Thomas ground that if at all Kangpokpi gets a boxing arena in the future, let it be named after Mary Kom. The collective wish of the people of Sadar Hills is that Mary do India proud once again in 2008 Beijing Olympics’. Let’s all pray that her own category is included in the Olympics and India win a gold at last.

The author is Additional Deputy Commissioner under the government of Manipur, a Northeast state in India.

1 Comment

  1. Jalencha

    Simple English pleasssssss