AGENCIES HO CHI MINH CITY, 8th Nov: Star Indian boxer M.C. Mary Kom defeated Hyang Mi Kim of North Korea in the women's 48kg category to clinch gold at the Asian Boxing Championship here on Wednesday.
The Olympic bronze medallist got the better of her opponent in a unanimous 5-0 verdict in the final to win her fifth gold at the Asian Boxing Championship and first in the 48 kg category.
"I am really happy the way this championship has panned out. I would like to dedicate this victory to all those who have supported me even though the world had written me off. I would like to thank my coaching staff who worked hard with me over the last few months," Mary said after her victory.
"A special word for the professional setup that BFI has put in place, ensuring that best facilities were given during the month-long camp and all the exposure trips for the team. Also, I am thankful to BFI President Mr. Ajay Singh especially for showing faith in me," she added.
Mary Kom got off to a brilliant start, launching a blistering attack right from the word go. She landed most of her punches which put her ahead in the opening round itself.
The Korean tried to stay in the fight, packing a few of her own. But Mary had clearly done better.
In the second round, Mary eased up a little, preferring to be a little cautious. She used her defensive abilities to the optimum and attacked only on the counter in this round.
This strategy also worked, taking her just one step away from the gold.
The Korean grew desperate in the final round and came out swinging, almost recklessly.
But Mary was ready for that too. She used her reflexes well to slip in her jabs and hooks, while connecting her punches too. It was enough to put her on top of the podium.
Every medal is a story of struggle, says the indomitable MC Mary Kom, who considers her fifth Asian Boxing Championship gold medal special as it came despite the many roles she has had to play outside the ring in the past one year.
"This medal is very special to me just like all other medals I have won because it has its own story of struggles. Every medal I have won is a story of a difficult struggle. I am hoping this medal, which has come after I became an MP, will enhance my reputation even further. I hope my stature grows," Mary Kom said. Besides being an active and top-level boxer, the 35-year-old is a sitting Rajya Sabha MP, whose attendance in the house has never been brought into question, a government observer for boxing in the country and a "very busy" mother to her three sons.
Add to this, she is also involved in the running of her academy in Imphal, along with her husband Onler Kom.
"I have been an active MP, I am attending Parliament regularly and despite that I trained hard for this championship.
Since I am a government observer, I have to be present at meetings related to the running of the sport as well. I hope people realise how tough it is," she said.
"I have been juggling so many roles. I am a mother too, I have three sons to take care of. I don't even know how I manage to pull it off sometimes," she added.
The diminutive Manipuri has been the face of women's boxing not just in India but all over the world, earning the nickname 'Magnificent Mary' from the International Boxing Association (AIBA) back in 2010.
She was last year honoured with the AIBA Legends' award for her long and sparkling career, which also includes a gold medal at the 2014 Asian Games.
The pace of her life is sometimes hard to keep up with, admits Mary Kom but throwing in the towel is not an option for her.
"After this (the Asian Championships), I have to travel to Lausanne for an IOC athletes forum. And I hate journeys now. The travelling wears me down, it is actually quite horrible to go from one airport to another in a matter of days. But you can't walk away from your responsibilities and commitments," she explained.
Another Indian finalist Sonia Lather suffered a heartbreak as she went down to China's Yin Junhua in the final of the 57kg category to settle for the silver.
It was overall a great campaign for the Indian contingent as seven of their boxers will return home with medals including one gold, one silver and five bronzes.