The Indian boxer spoke about the early days of her illustrious career.

Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom needs no introduction to the Indian sports fans. She is one of the most decorated Indian athletes of all time and still working hard to change the colour of her Olympic medal.

The Manipur pugilist, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 London Olympics, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics after a remarkable performance in the Asian boxing qualifiers earlier this year. She won a bronze medal in the tournament which is a testament of her strength and hunger to succeed even at the age of 37.

She shared some stories about her journey to 25,000 students during a video interaction in Legends on Unacademy programme and revealed that she had to fight against male boxers during her early days as girls were not interested in boxing at that time.

Mary Kom said, “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. All I want to say is that boxing is not a man’s sport. If men can play, then why can’t women play.”

“I just loved playing with the boys in my village because the girls never played. The situation in my childhood was totally different from what it is now, only boys would be playing outside.”

Women’s amateur boxing was introduced at the continental and world level in 2001. However, it took another decade for it to be included at the Olympic Games.

Fellow Manipur boxer and 1998 Asian Games gold medallist Dingko Singh inspired Mary Kom to become a top-level boxer and she made her decision to switch from athletics to boxing in 2000. She also learned that sports could be used as a means to improve her livelihood and hence chose it as a career option.

Mary Kom remarked, “I was always interested in sports but I never really knew the role of sports and its benefits. 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.”

“I think God chose me for sports. Because there can’t be any other reason that I would enter sports and end up spending my entire life in it,” she concluded.