Minimumweight Mangte Chungneijang Merykom (aka Mary Kom or MC Merykom) is
from Kangathei Village, Moirang Lamkhai in rural Manipur, India. Her interest in
boxing was inspired by the success of Manipuri male boxer Dingko Singh.
She took to sports in an effort to provide some financial support to her family.
"I was initially an all-round athlete, and 400-m and javelin were my pet events.
When Dingko Singh returned from Bangkok (Asian Games) with a gold, I thought I
should give it a try. Dingko's success triggered a revolution of sort in Manipur
and surprisingly I found that I was not the only girl who was drawn into
She began boxing in 2000 and was a quick learner who preferred to be put through
the same paces as the boys around her. "In just two weeks, I had learnt all
the basics. I guess I had God-given talent for boxing."
She initially tried to keep her interest in the sweet science from her father,
M. Tonpu Kom, and mother Saneikham Kom, but winning a 2000 State championship
got her photograph in the newspaper - and her secret was out of the bag:
"I still remember I was castigated by my father who said with a battered and
bruised face, I should not expect to get married. He was furious that I took to
boxing - a taboo for women - and he did not have the slightest idea about it.
But my passion for the sport had got the better of me and I thank my cousins who
coaxed and cajoled my father into eventually giving his nod. I'm happy that I
did not let anybody down," she
told the Deccan Herald in September 2004.
After winning her first title and Best Boxer at the First State Level Invitation
women's boxing championship in Manipur in 2000, Merykom went on to win the gold
in the Seventh East India Women’s Boxing Championship held in West Bengal and
subsequently to win five Indian National Championships from 2000 to 2005.
She also embarked on an international campaign that has brought her a series of
gold medals and honors, though not without a few setbacks.
On her way by train to the selection camp for her first Asian Women’s Boxing
Championships in Bangkok, Thailand, she had all her luggage and her passport
stolen. Her parents asked her to come home but she carried on her course. "My
saviour was a city-based uncle, who said he’d fix everything if I got selected.
I did, but I returned empty handed (from the meet in Bangkok). The stress
following the loss of documents and luggage interfered with my training."
Her solution was still more training. "We girls really worked hard. Women’s
boxing was a very recent introduction, and we really wanted to excel."
Merykom's "international gold rush" finally began with the Second Asian Women's
Championship in Hissar and continued with a win in the Third Asian Women's
Championship held in Taiwan.
In her first AIBA World Women's Boxing Championship in Scranton, USA in 2001,
the 18-year-old Merykom had to settle for silver, losing to Hulya Sahin of
Turkey by 13-5 in the 48-kg final after defeating Jamie Behl of Canada by 21-9
in the semi-final and Nadia Hockmi of Poland by RSCO-3 in the quarter-final.
"She was leading in the first round but her opponent managed
to score points in the final round," coach Anoop Kumar
said of Merykom's
performance in the final.
The next year, she struck gold at the Second AIBA World Women’s Senior Boxing
Championship held from October 21-27, 2002 in Antalya, Turkey, winning the 45-kg
division by defeating Svetlana Miroshnichenko of the Ukraine in her semi-final
and Jang Song-Ae of North Korea in the final
On November 22, 2003 in the 46-kg finals of the Asian Women's Championships at
Mahabir Stadium in Hisar, India, she defeated Chou Szu Yin of Chinese Taipei by
RSCO-2. She had previously defeated L. G. Chandrika of Sri Lanka also by RSCO-2.
once-skeptical father accompanied his trail-blazing daughter to the ceremony in
2003 at which she was the first woman ever to receive India's prestigious Arjuna
award for her achievement in boxing.
She also took gold in the 46-kg division of the Women's World Boxing Tournament
in Tønsberg, Norway from 27 April to 2 May 2004, defeating Derya Aktop of Turkey
by RSCO-2 in the semi-final and Xia Li of China by RSCO-2 in the final.
She was also the Witch Cup Tournament champion in Hungary in 2004.
At the August 2004 Asian Women's Boxing Championships in Taiwan she
defeated Gretchen Abaniel of the Philippines 35-11 in the 46-kg final.
She successfully defended her 46-kg world title at the Third AIBA Women's World
Championships held from 25 September to 2 October 2005 in Podolsk, Russia. She
won the final by a 28-13 score over Jong Ok of North Korea, who had reached the
finals with a 22-20 decision over Gretchen Abaniel of the Philippines. Kom had
defeated Elena Sabitova of Russia 31-16 in her semi-final and Nancy Fortin of
Canada 30-13 in her preliminary. While she saw her repeat win as great progress,
she expressed admiration for the Russians, who won the team event.
"They are so well-built, with big muscles!"
On 19-22 October 2006 at the Venus Box Cup in Vejle, Denmark, Merykom won by
RSCO-2 over Sofie Molholr of Denmark in the 46-kg semi-final and defeated
Steluta Duta of Romania by retirement in the third round. Duta had defeated
Valeria Calabrese of Italy RSCI-2 to reach the final and had also won the 46-kg
division of the Ahmet Comert Tournament in 2006 with a RSCO-2 over Derya Aktop
of Turkey (Merykom did not compete in that tournament.)
On 23 November 2006 at the AIBA World Championships at
Talkatora Indoor Stadium in New Delhi, India
Merykom again won the 46-kg division - this time with a 22-7 decision over her
Venus Box Cup final opponent Steluta Duta of Romania. Merykom kept the Romanian
on the defensive for most of the bout, then celebrated her win with a
demonstration of Manipuri folk dance in the ring. Duta reached the final with a
RSCO-2 win over Boranbayeva Zalgul of Kazakhstan in the semi.
In New Delhi, Merykom had previously defeated Jong Ok of North Korea 20-8 in the
semi-final, and Chandrike Geruga of Sri Lanka by RSCO-2 in the quarter-final
after a bye in the preliminary round. She began the tournament with a
cough and fever (and was unable to take any medication because of the doping
test) but she still performed well enough to lead Chandrike Geruga 13-3 after
one round, and the bout was stopped in the second with Merykom ahead 19-4.
"Everyone in our team worked very hard for this day and it is good to see
that we have achieved it on our home soil," she said. On this occasion the
Indian women's boxing team edged the formidable Russians by 34 points to 28 in
Like most world-class amateur female boxers, Merykom now hopes to compete in the
Olympic Games some day. "Now I will dream again to represent India in the
Olympics at least once till the time my body permits."
On her ring strategy, Merykom
says "I simply try to cramp my opponents so
that they don't get any chance to free their arms. 'My height (around five feet)
is a problem but my fitness is my advantage. I make my opponents run a lot in
the ring, which tires them.'
In 2005 she told a felicitation program
organized by Indian Amateur Boxing Federation and YMCA:
"I do not only rely on my technique or strength but also on my mind," adding
that in her 46-kg weight category "I mostly meet different boxers in my
weight category as the older ones change to higher weight category. But I have
established myself here."
a successful boxer one must also have a strong heart. Some women are physically
strong but fail when it comes to having a strong heart. One also must have the
zeal and the right fighting spirit,"
says Merykom. "We work
harder than men and are determined to fight with all our strength to make our
nation proud. God has given me the talent and it’s only because of sheer grit
and hard work that I have made it so far."
Merykom works out five to six hours a day to stay fit. Coming from a poor family
who struggled to educate her siblings, her success as a world champion is a
testament to her determination, perseverance and drive to succeed. She has used
her earnings from boxing to obtain a new house and land for her parents and
savings deposits for her younger siblings but she bemoans the lack of
sponsorship for Indian female boxers, saying "I guess that’s because I don’t
play tennis or cricket. Seriously, are there no other sports in India?"
She has said that she would eventually like to share her boxing experiences
while grooming new sports talent in Manipur.
Other Mary Kom links
To check out fight reports, complete up-to-date boxing records, with huge
digital photos you can go to the
WBAN Records Member Site
Page last updated:
Tuesday, 11 December 2012