At best, Mary Kom is an average boxer in a country which has its head buried in the sands. We are too quick to accord star-status, and we don’t really believe in comparisons. For example, we do not compare Indian boxers to their international counterparts because comparisons will expose their limited ability. Mary Kom has won quite a few significant bouts, but she is not world-class by any stretch of the imagination. She will find it tough to remain on her feet after only a few rounds if you pit her against a Cuban, Ukrainian or Japanese. On a good day, Mary Kom might even knock out a Cuban, but that would go down as an isolated incident. It will not be reflective of the standard of boxing in India. But we see it differently. For the emotional Indian, there is none beyond MC Mary Kom.
As long as Mary Kom wins a medal here and a medal there, we are a content lot. Why compare and feel small when we can be happily delusional? The five-time World Amateur Boxing champion has even inspired a movie in which Priyanka Chopra plays Mary Kom. How limited the vision of Indian filmmakers is. The idea behind making the movie was to showcase the struggle and achievements of a boxer, who simply happened to be Mary Kom, hoping it would inspire many more to get into the ring. If that was the idea, why not pick the best in the business? Why not take Nicola Adams? She is a coloured woman and has faced harder times.
If it is a ‘my country’ thing, and the director, coming from an emotional plane, wanted to portray someone only Indian, then it’s the most unprofessional thing to do, besides expecting viewers to settle for the second or the third or the fourth best.
A truly inspirational, hit movie script always portrays the life of a global champion, a hero with the highest level victories, not a boxer who has performance anxieties even at the thought of professional boxing! You are a true inspiration and a star only if you are recognised world over. Mary Kom is not an international level boxer, even if you flaunt her Olympic bronze medal. So what? If we are so easy to impress, then there can never be a truly great Indian star.
Mary Kom couldn’t be truly great also because she tried to balance her home and boxing life. How can anyone aspiring to be great, compromise? Sacrifices are needed to be made if you wish to go down in history as a ‘boxing great’. You have to cut the emotional cord and dedicate your waking moments in the ring, practicing till you drop. You cannot be distracted by the sound of your crying baby, or by your husband’s various needs. If Mary Kom finds her family equally important, as most of us do, it’s her privilege. But then let’s not call her a legend.
It’s simply a factual observation, not an attempt to demean Mary Kom. She is an extremely sweet woman and I adore her for her hard work and pleasant personality, but I am not guided by my emotions in times of serious assessment.
Mary Kom is a good boxer, a loving mother, a dedicated wife and a fun person to talk to. She is full of grit and determination. She has struggled quite a bit. That’s it. It would be reckless to call Mary Kom a marvel.
Why does Sanjay Leela Bhansali want us to believe that the struggle of Mary Kom is the ultimate inspiration? There is no denying the fact that Mary kom is a fighting legend. She has quite a few years left in her to take some blows, still. But she cannot be a role model if I am looking for the best to be inspired by.
In any case, at 32, she is having to overcome the fabled slowdown of age. Mary Kom is aware, and thankfully, she has already announced that she will hang her gloves after the 2016 Rio Olympics. She would have found it hard to cope with the rigours of boxing if she stretched her time beyond Rio.
We all consider boxing only as a physical sport, but it’s not. There is so much of mind involved, so much of calculations and strategies come into play. Boxing gives you the ability to enhance your grit; it teaches you commitment and the willpower to sustain. It is an unbelievable feeling to step into the ring, if you are boxer, in front of a jam-packed crowd. You know everyone is watching you. You need to be careful and not get distracted by the boos and the brickbats. All that matters is that you remain standing at the final bell. Winning and losing becomes secondary, then. You survived onslaughts and blows and punches, you held your own. You are winner, not matter whose hand the referee raises to announce the winner.
Mary Kom could have been classified as one such athlete if only she had made boxing her life goal.