Puri, pasta and hunger for Olympic gold: Mary Kom’s lockdown mantra – The New Indian Express

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CHENNAI: For MC Mary Kom the mother, this lockdown is a blessing in disguise. She is juggling making puris and pasta, and training at home. But the one thing that gives her immense pleasure is the time she’s spending with her three sons. For the first time she is able to devote so much time to the family, something considered a novelty for elite athletes who spend time in national camps and training abroad. 

The 37-year-old six-time world champion and Olympic medallist is gearing up for a golden punch at next year’s Olympics. In a freewheeling interview with The New Indian Express, she talks about India’s current crop of boxers and more. 

Excerpts:

Is the period of lockdown a challenging time for you? Do you need to be active to keep fit and maintain weight?
These days are very difficult. It’s very dangerous for all of us. It’s (staying at home) the best option for all of us. Otherwise, anything can happen. Because going outside is dangerous. It is a different challenge. Myself, all the athletes and other people as well, we’re facing the same problem because of the situation. Right now, all of us staying indoors is required and is very important because we all know that coronavirus is so dangerous.

We can lose our lives also. My activity as a sportsperson is very rigorous, we train regularly. But during the lockdown, I do my workout one time a day. It’s very important for us to remain fit because of the upcoming competitions. If we keep training, then it’s easy for all of us. If we’re going to compete in future competitions, then we have to ensure that we remain fit. Maintaining fitness is very important not just for sportspersons, but for everyone. Even for normal people keeping fit is important and healthy. Not only for me but for my husband and kids too, they are doing activities and playing.

Manipur bandhs used to be long and laborious… 
Yes, yes. Those bandhs used to be long but were different. At least during those bandhs, we could go out and roam around in our own locality and engage in activities. Training also was not a problem. There were sports institutes and then, I had my academy so I could train.

Is this the longest time not sparring?
I am not doing it right now. But I don’t think it will affect me that much because of my experience. After this COVID-19 is over, I don’t think this (sparring) will be an issue for me. I think what I’ve done is enough.

Spending time with family
This is, I think, the longest one. I don’t spend a lot of time with family because of training. This is good for me and good for the kids. I cook. During the lockdown, on different days, we cook different dishes. We usually don’t eat roti but after lockdown, we are eating roti and puri and all. There is nothing to do and you have to spend time. I have made so many things for them including pasta.

Any favourite dish?
Our favourite is the local food only. But sometimes I make them different dishes like pasta and puri sabji and all. They are fond of puri sabji. During training time we cannot eat puri and sabji.

How are things at your boxing academy in Imphal?
Of course, I feel a great deal about the academy. I have already sent all the trainees home. Right now I don’t want to take a risk. Whenever I am in Imphal I am at the academy and find out whether they are doing well or not. Now everyone is staying at home. I try and help students who can’t afford to spend much. I come from a humble background and I know how much one has to struggle to reach the top. I support my students in whatever way I can. Right now, we are following the government guidelines and will start the academy once this is over.

How long will a boxer take to make a comeback?
I think after one or two weeks, they will be fit. Some kind of training is still on. During the comeback period, the boxers will suffer and there will be pain because the muscles will start aching. Slowly with activities endurance will be back. After that, it will be normal for all boxers.

Postponement of Olympics means you will be older. How do you take it?
It was a good decision. I am going to try and get gold, so I have to give more than a hundred per cent. I have the experience. Fitness is very important and I am working on it. If I’m a hundred per cent, I am not worried about that. I will try my best for the gold.

How do you see 2012 and 2021 Olympics?
For me, there is no difference at all (between 2012 and 2021). Difference I think will be in judging. I believe it has to be fair. You think someone is winning and suddenly someone else’s hand is raised. Not just in my fight but also in others’ fight. Sometimes the judgement is not fair. You know you have landed punches but sometimes result doesn’t go in your favour. That is surprising. But if decisions are fair and I can do as much as I can, I can win gold.

You had such good boxers from Manipur earlier…
Not only from Manipur. This is a problem across India. One has to last long. They are not able to sustain at that level.

Why?
The sports ministry has given us a lot. Boxing Federation of India has supported us. We got everything from them. The problem is the boxers. When some of the boxers make it to the international level, whether small or big, their attitude is totally different (changes). If they are going to have the wrong attitude, then I don’t think they will last long. Be humble. Work hard and be sincere. Be honest. But boxers, after achieving something, winning a medal, their mentality changes. You have heard about my selection controversy… Young boxers don’t have the respect, they don’t have the humility. Before they are nothing, and after they achieve something at an international level, it’s totally different. That’s the problem. If that’s the attitude, arrogance… I don’t think things will improve.

How do you explain your success for 20 years?
Honestly, I am very sincere in my training and I have respect for everyone. I have already achieved everything. I am already a six-time world champion. I have Olympic, Asian and Commonwealth Games medals. Still, why am I fighting? My goal is only Olympic gold. That’s why I have still continued despite my struggles. My family is still supporting me. Even now, there are so many responsibilities. My kids are growing up. I can’t only think about my career, but I have to think about my kids’ careers also. Right now, my husband is looking after everything. It is very important and that’s why I can continue and achieve this in my life.

For 20 years you were fit and mostly injury free…
I don’t think after 10 years or 20, the next Mary Kom will come up! The boxers now don’t have that hunger. Once they achieve something at the international level, they are happy and satisfied. They think, ‘I’ve already achieved something’. Hunger needs to be there.

Have BFI, sports ministry and Sports Authority of India supporting boxing?
Now we have three or four boxers in each category. Sometimes one boxer cannot go to every competition. If I am not able to fight in one competition, then the next ranked boxer will go and if someone cannot perform then the next boxer will get a chance. Before, only the No 1 was travelling to every competition. In my view, BFI has done a very good job here. Sports ministry is also supporting not
only boxing but all sports. They’re looking after every game. Athletes also need to deliver.

Source: Thanks https://www.newindianexpress.com/sport/other/2020/apr/22/puri-pasta-and-hunger-for-olympic-gold-mary-koms-lockdown-mantra-2133951.html