New Delhi | India’s MC Mary Kom won a historic sixth gold in the World Championships here Saturday, the mother-of-three doing, without breaking a sweat, what no other woman boxer has done or known before.
Moments after Mary Kom became the most successful boxer in the history of women’s world championships by beating Ukraine’s Hanna Okhota in an unanimous 5-0 verdict in the 48kg category summit bout, young Sonia Chahal settled for a silver medal after losing her final. India finished third in the overall standings behind China and Taipei.
The Olympic bronze medallist came into the all-important bout, which coincided with her 36th birthday, optimistic of adding to her five world championships titles, and, without an iota of doubt, she walked the talk against Okhota in front of a packed K D Jhadav Stadium.
The feisty Manipuri now has an incredible six gold and one silver in the showpiece, the last yellow metal coming in 2010 in Bridgetown. The results read 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 30-27 in favour of Mary Kom who had beaten the opponent in a tournament in Poland this year. Before this World Championships, Mary Kom was tied with Ireland’s Katie Taylor (five gold and a bronze) on the number of medals won by a woman.
With this, ‘Magnificent Mary’ also matched Cuban legend Felix Savon as the joint most successful pugilist (men and women) in the Championships history.
The feisty Manipuri, a mother of three children, won a silver in the inaugural edition in 2001 and then went on to win a gold each in the next five editions — 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Overwhelmed, Mary Kom broke down after coming out of the ring as she went around to greet the packed crowd and the assembled officials. Wrapped in the tri-colour, she thanked her fans for their “unstinted” support.
“I am a little bit emotional today. There is no (48kg) weight category in the Olympic Games. Because of your love and support, I feel I will be able to qualify for 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Four years ago, I was not able to qualify for Rio. I am still suffering from that,” she said.
India ended the championships with 1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze — from Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Simranjit Kaur (64kg). India’s best performance ever was the eight medals, including four gold, it won in 2006 in New Delhi.
“Thank you for your love and support. I don’t have anything to give except for a gold in the country. I know it will be a bit difficult for me to win a gold in Tokyo as I will have to fight in 51kg.
“Because of their reach, the taller boxers (who will be in 51kg) will have advantage. But I am still dreaming about winning the gold in 2020 Olympics.” She thanked the coaches who taught her throughout and the current Indian support staff. “I dedicate this gold to the nation and my countrymen.”
A packed crowd waited for Mary Kom to come out in the first final of the day. The Indian straightaway went into the ring and had her small prayer in the blue corner.
It was a watchful start for both the boxers and the Ukrainian, much younger to the Indian, showed attacking intent and kept coming on Mary Kom. The wily Indian soon began to take control. She stepped back and pounced on her opponent to land some clear punches. The first round clearly belonged to Mary Kom and all the judges gave points in her favour.
The second round was the most closely contested one with Mary Kom going for more attack. Okhota was able to land a few strikes on the Indian. This round also went in favour of Mary Kom, with three judges favouring her and two going for Okhota.
The third round was dominated by Mary as she landed some telling blows on Okhota — a right-handed jab, left-hand combination which rattled the Ukrainian. The crowd went berserk and when the result was announced, the noise reached its crescendo, and Mary Kom bowed to acknowledge.
The other Indian finalist, 21-year-old Sonia lost to Wahner Ornella Gabriele of Germany in the 57kg final in a split 4-1 decision to settle for a silver in her debut World Championships.
Sonia, a rookie boxer who began competing at the senior level only since 2016, won the closely-contested first round but from there went downhill with her German opponent getting the upper hand to win 29-28, 29-28, 28-29, 29-28, 29-28.
The German landed a lot of punches on Sonia in the second and the Indian appeared to be trying to just play out the bout.
“I did my best but it was not enough. My opponent was better on the day. I am happy to have won a silver in my first World Championships,” she said. “I will analyse my weaknesses and work hard for the 2020 Olympics.”
Hailing from Bhiwani district in Haryana, Sonia began her career in 2011 when she was 14 and rose through the ranks by competing at the school and sub-junior levels. She first won a senior level medal in 2016.