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Know How Mary Kom Overcame the Societal Boundaries and Became a Boxer

by Steven Brown

People rebel for different reasons. Some rebel against the wrongdoings of the dispensation, and others take up a fight in favor of the just cause. There is always a cause associated that fuels the intention of the rebel inherently. Some people rebel not to be a part of any social agenda or a trend, but to fulfill their dreams. They rebel not to cause a stir but to go untiringly about their way to live the dream that is so close to their heart. One such rebel as depicted in the Mary Kom biography is herself, who not only battled financial adversities but also rebelled against societal shackles that tried hard to make her succumb to the expectations of society and pre-set expectations.

In a country where Indian female sportspersons are not encouraged and promoted as their male counterparts are are often subjected to ridicule as they don’t conform to depicting themselves by the dated narrative of being a doting mother or a loving and caring wife, Mary was sick of hearing that women are not strong enough to participate in boxing and that it was detrimental to their health. Absurd it sounds, but many Indian families indeed believe that sending their girls out to play a so-called man’s sport will jeopardize their prospects of finding a suitable groom. That was exactly what Mary had to hear at first when she expressed her desire to participate in a testosterone-high sport called boxing, a male bastion which is described elaborately in Mary Kom biography. Not the one to take a no for an answer, Mary decided to take the first step and started her training secretly without letting her family know. It was not easy for her though, especially with the household duties she had to accomplish while continuing her training. It was not until Mary’s picture got published in the newspaper that everyone who knew Mary closely realized that she had been practicing boxing diligently all this while which led her to become the winner of a state championship in the year 2000. Her achievements can be seen beautifully in the Mary Kom biography.

It was not just the stereotypes that were prevalent in the society that tried to pull her back, but the deplorable financial condition of Mary’s family was a huge factor in making her path difficult right from the inception. It was another reason why Mary found it quite difficult initially to continue with her training as described in the Mary Kom biography. Belonging to a family of peasants, which automatically comes at the very bottom of the societal hierarchy, Mary had no means to afford a proper protein diet that was needed to develop the physique that an aspirant boxer had to build. It was a heartbreaking moment for Mary when her father confessed before her that it was getting challenging for him to manage the expenses of his family and that he couldn’t afford to continue paying for the diet that she needed. For any father, it is a moment of great despair and anguish to accept that he is unable to provide for his child and help her fulfill her dreams because of a financial crunch. However, even poverty could not make Mary budge from her decision, and she assured her father that she was going to arrange for her diet. It was not easy though, but resourceful as she was, Mary decided that she would be eating the meals priced at rupees 25 compared to the other boxers who usually signed up for meals priced at rupees 50, double the sum that she could afford. This determination and willpower that Mary’s father witnessed in her, moved him deeply and encouraged him to decide in favor of supporting his daughter’s dream by whatever means he could.

Having faced and won over societal boundaries that bore out of financial struggles on the personal front and challenges arising out of gender stereotypes in the country, Mary faced another limitation. It happened after she decided to take a short hiatus from boxing to get married and have children. The decision never meant that Mary was parting ways with her passion, rather she treated it just as a short break that she wanted to spend with her loved ones. However, people around her didn’t see the pause as she planned but presumed that her boxing career was over, and she would never return to the ring but immerse herself in the responsibilities of a homemaker and mother. Not only did she perform well, but she also went on to claim the laurel of becoming the only woman who had participated in the London Olympics that year, competed, and qualified. Her victory at the summer Olympics, not only made Mary the first Indian woman boxer to have won an Olympic medal and that too in a 51 kg category for which she was not equipped at all, but also made her rubbish all the criticisms and skepticism regarding her future.

Ever since Mary had decided to pursue her dream of being a boxer, not once did she get an opportunity to experience an easy ride. Every phase was marked by obstacles from different elements of society, including financial constraints. However, as mentioned in Mary Kom biography, she successfully punched her way through all the societal boundaries, not only emerging victorious before her opponents but the entire world at large.

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