The KD Jadhav Hall was packed on Saturday for the Women’s World Boxing Championship in anticipation of Mary Kom’s fina bout against Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota. The support and cheer that greeted the 35-year-old boxing legend was enormous. Nine minutes and three rounds later, Mary Kom had etched her name in the history books as she secured a 5-0 win over Okhota to clinch a world record sixth gold medal in the World Boxing Championship. The win made her the most successful woman boxer of all time and she tied Cuban boxer Felix Savon’s feat of six gold medals in the men’s category.
Immediately after the hand was raised, Mary Kom was emotional and she thanked the crowd for their support. Speaking after the end of the match, the Manipuri boxer and a mother of three children, broke down as she set her sights for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics but she was aware that there would be no 48kg category in the Olympics and that she had to fight in the 51kg category which is difficult.
“I know it will be a bit difficult for me to win gold in Tokyo as I will have to fight in 51kg. Four years ago, I was not able to qualify for Rio. I am still suffering from that. The most difficult thing for me was to deal with the pressure, pressure of expectations, the pressure of playing at home, the pressure of winning sixth world title and pressure of leading the Indian team,” Mary Kom said.
In June 2017, the International Olympic Council decided to increase the weight category for the women and decrease the weight category for the men in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. In Tokyo, women will compete in five weight categories — 51kg, 57kg, 60kg, 69kg and 75kg — in Tokyo. The two categories have been included to bring gender parity at the Games. This means Mary Kom’s category, where she fights in the 48kg category, will not be present and she will have to secure qualification in the 51 kg category.
The pain of not qualifying for the 2016 Rio Olympics still haunts Mary Kom. In the World Boxing Championships in Astana, she was up against Germany’s Azize Nimani but in a shocking result, Nimani defeated Mary Kom 2-0 in the second round to shatter her dream of representing India in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
However, in the post-tournament press conference, Mary Kom spoke about the need to play smartly in order to achieve success. “If you see my bouts in the initial seven years of my career and now, you will see a lot of difference. Earlier, I was like a bull fighter. I was always charging and I would be totally tired and could not even raise my hand after the fight. Now, I am smarter and try to find out the game of my opponent and then think out mine in the ring itself. Nowadays, it is not that tiring also unlike when I was younger,” Mary Kom said.