BANGALORE: Mary Kom is surprisingly petite and soft-spoken for a boxing champion. In the city on Wednesday to unveil the SBI Bengaluru Midnight Marathon, she had a message for women who want to storm male bastions.
"Remember if men can do it, women can, too. Keep trying, keep fighting, and never give up," she told City Express in an exclusive interview.
Denying any discrimination against people from the North East in boxing, she said everyone was treated as an equal. "I haven't faced any discrimination till now," she said. Mary is a world amateur boxing champion.
Despite her accomplishments in boxing, she doesn't want her children to take up the sport. "It is a hard game and I got so many injuries. But if they really want to box, I will give them my full support," she said.
Although she has come a long way, she still remembers the discouragement she faced from friends and family. "The first challenge I encountered was from a very good friend who discouraged me from boxing. I was told boxing was a men's sport and not for women," she recalled. The question she faced frequently was: "What will you get? You don't have any future in boxing."
She would reply it was her passion. "I wanted to see for myself what the future held in store," she said.
As a child, Mary enjoyed watching action films more than anything else. "I was very fond of all sports and games, especially sports that included fighting," she said.
But opportunities to take up such sports were few. "After 17, I entered athletics and when I learnt that boxing would be introduced in 2000, it was like a dream come true," she said.
May Kom, the biopic on her life starring Priyanka Chopra, has been an enriching experience, but not everything was easy. "I had just delivered a child. Priyanka and I didn't have that much time to interact as we had our own problems," she said. Priyanka kept inviting Mary for the film's shooting in Mumbai and Manali, but it was not possible for her to go.
"We met twice and it was a good experience because Priyanka is simple, down to earth, and humble. She visited my native place and it was a good experience for her to know how we live in Manipur," she said.