M C Mary Kom added another feather to her already well-adorned cap, becoming the first Indian woman boxer to clinch a gold medal in the Asian Games after a coming-from-behind win over Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova in the flyweight final on Wednesday.
The five-time world champion and Olympic bronze-medallist beat Shekerbekova 2-0 to improve on the bronze medal she won in the previous edition of the Games, where women boxers made their debut.
The Manipuri trailed her rival in the battle of two left-handed boxers in the first round with three ringside judges being swayed towards her rival’s way at the Seonhak boxing gymnasium.
But an undeterred Mary stormed her way back by edging past her rival in round two and then dominated the Kazakh in the last two rounds after one of the judge’s score tied the two at 38-38.
“I am very happy to win my first gold medal in these (multi-discipline) Games. I have won a bronze in the last Asian Games, a bronze in the Olympics and now the gold. I have sacrificed my family life, left my kids behind and worked very hard,” Mary Kom said after the bout.
“I was always sure of the gold thanks to the support of my countrymen. After three kids I am an Asian Games champion. Thank you so much,” said the beaming boxer at a media conference.
Mary Kom also said that the controversial loss she suffered to Pinky Jhangra in the trials to pick the team for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games acted as extra motivation for her.
“I don’t think it was a free and fair trial. That gave me more motivation to prove myself and I did. I worked double hard to achieve this. Now I am happy to give the gold for my country,” Mary Kom said.
About the bout she said it was even-stevens to start with as the Kazakh fighter was a very good opponent.
“In the first two rounds I could not catch her up. She was very fast and very strong. But in the third and fourth I caught up and it was easier to connect my punches,” said Mary.
“I will prepare for the World Championships (in November in Korea) and try and qualify for the Rio Olympic Games,” she added.
After the close first two rounds, Mary started landing good blows on her rival’s face and even body. A solid right hook followed by a left in the third shook the Kazakh pugilist.
She got a unanimous verdict in the third round and kept her aggressive intent in the fourth to earn the verdict and the coveted gold.
It was the third women’s medal for India from the ring, after the bronze medals won by L Sarita Devi (women’s light weight) and Pooja Rani (women’s middle weight).