BANGALORE: She is a five-time world champion, mother of three and member of parliament, but Indian boxer Mary Kom believes that at 35 there is plenty more glory in the ring to come.
Dubbed “Magnificent Mary” for a glittering career that has already inspired a Bollywood biopic, veteran Kom last month defied critics who wrote her off by winning a record fifth Asian women’s championships title in Vietnam.
Driven on by the legacy of three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, she has now set her sights on the Commonwealth Games in April, and even the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 where she hopes to improve on the bronze medal she won in London.
“I am really inspired by Muhammad Ali, who was a legend across the world. He is my mentor and my only inspiration (is) his achievements,” she told AFP.
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“And he was such a great boxer — that is why I am still able to do this.”
The Asian title in November was her first gold at international level since winning the Asian Games in 2014.
But Kom has long rejected the doubts of those who have highlighted her age and questioned her ability to combine boxing with being a mother and an MP in India´s upper house.
“I am still fit. Some people talk about the X-factor and say ´she cannot perform´. That is always the mindset.
“So I say there is no X-factor … I have more experience and I am getting better and better,” added Kom.
In her bid for gold, she has dropped back down to the 48kg category she fought in when she first grabbed headlines at the 2001 world championships.
“The Games will soon be here,” she said referring to the Commonwealth event in Australia´s Gold Coast. “I am trying my best to improve day-by-day.”
Kom said the Indian government and much-criticised Boxing Federation of India (BFI) were providing “good facilities” so she has no excuses for not being ready.