She is called 'Magnificent Mary Kom' and the Indian boxer showed just why she deserves the title. The 31-year-old punched her way to a historic gold medal in Incheon (South Korea) on Wednesday - her first in Asian Games - to bring glory to the nation. Her triumph was also India's seventh gold at Incheon.
Mary had promised to settle for nothing less than a gold medal before the start of Asian Games. At the Seonhak Gymnasium on Wednesday,Â she came from behind to beat Kazakhstan's Zhaina Shekerbekova on a split decision in the flyweight (48-51 kg) division. (Also read: Sarita Devi refuses to wear Asian Games bronze, weeps at podium)
Mary, a five-time world champion and 2012 London Olympics bronze medallist, had to dig deep to beat Shekerbekova, who held her own in the opening round but was unable to hold off the vastly experienced Indian after that. It was the sheer determination of Mary that earned her not just the win and the gold medal but the thundering applause from fans as well.
Mary's win was her first at the Asian Games and her first major title in more than two years after she took a break to have her third child. Her amazing career is already the stuff of legends. Just last month, a film on her life was released. Actor Priyanka Chopa who plays Mary in the biopic, was one of the first to congratulate the boxer after her epic win in real life - a life that has become an inspiration for millions.
When she started out in boxing, Mary kept it a secret from her parents and it was only when her picture appeared in a newspaper that she confessed she was a fighter.
But success came quick and she emerged as the face of the campaign to get women's boxing into the Olympics, returning to the ring and winning two world titles after she had taken time out to start a family.
Now 31, Mary is showing no signs of slowing down, targeting gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics, despite juggling motherhood with the demands of training and competing.
When travelling for tournaments, she calls her children every night before they go to bed and returns home with toys to make up for her time away.
"I feel really happy. This is my first competition after the London Olympics. I performed very well in the ring," she said.
"I've sacrificed a lot, such as my family. I have only focused on training....I want to give this medal to my country."
While her medal may be for the country, and her love for her three children, Mary also runs a boxing academy in Manipur. The academy trains underprivileged children who wantÂ to take up boxing as a sport - hoping that one day, they make Mary proud by surpassing her records!
(With inputs from Reuters)