NEW DELHI: Mary Kom has been the face of Indian boxing for over a decade and is widely considered one of the greatest amateur boxers of all time. She, however, still wonders how is it that she ended dedicating her life to sports, let alone boxing, considering the fact that girls hardly played sport in her village and boxing itself was a male dominated field when she was starting out.
"I was always interested in sports but I never really knew the role of sports and its benefits," Mary said in an online video interaction for Unacademy app on Wednesday.
"I just loved playing with the boys in my village because girls never played. The situation in my childhood was totally different from what it is now, only boys would be playing outside.
"God chose me for sports I think. Because there can't be any other reason that I would enter sports and end up spending my entire life in it. So I had never imagined that I would be making a career like this. Slowly I started understanding the benefits of sports, that if you do well in it, you get better job opportunities. If you excel in sports, you excel in life."
The 37-year-old said that she could hardly find any fellow female boxers when she was starting out.
"This sport is a male dominated one. It is mostly considered a man's sport. So initially when I started boxing, it was very difficult. There would be one or two girls training apart from me so I had to train with boys. So all I want to say is that boxing is not a man's sport. If men can play, then why can't women play," she said.
Mary is the only woman boxer to have won a medal in each one of the first seven World Championships, and the only boxer -- male or female -- to win eight World Championship medals. Six of these are gold medals, the most for any boxer at the World Championships.