To call the noise that accompanied the arrival of MC Mary Kom ahead of her Women’s World Championships quarterfinal bout vs. China’s Wu Yu ‘deafening’ would be an understatement.
Throughout the bout, chants of ‘Mary Kom’ and ‘India, India’ greeted her as she sparred off against someone who was much younger than her.
If the first round seemed a little hard to call, the second and third rounds were more tilted in Mary’s favour and the result – a victory by unanimous decision – left very few surprised.
The win clearly meant a lot to the Manipuri boxer, who could be seen doing a little victory dance as she awaited her cue to take questions from the media.
But while she did state that she was gunning for a gold medal, she also maintained that she would have to stay focused and take every fight as it came.
“I can’t take it easy in any fight. I’ll have to give my 100% in every bout and I am focused on what lies ahead,” she told reporters after her bout.
A gold medal in this edition of the tournament will see her crowned world champion for an unprecedented sixth time. Mary is currently level with Ireland’s Katie Taylor with five golds.
Mary was the first Indian boxer to seal a semi-final spot on Tuesday but she was by no means the last.
India’s Lovlina Borgohain also won her quarterfinal match in the welterweight division, beating Australia’s Kaye Scott by unanimous decision.
Lovlina had taken part at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games earlier and made it as far as the quarter-finals before being knocked out by eventual gold medal winner Sandy Ryan of England.
Since then, the Assamese pugilist has worked on her strength and conditioning before the tournament and also used video analysis to prepare for her opponents.
“I had some problems with my strength and conditioning so I worked on that this time. I also watched videos to figure out what tactics to use against certain opponents,” she told reporters after her bout.
Later in the day, Sonia – whose preliminary round win over Stanimira Petrova on Tuesday was marred with controversy – also entered the semi-finals with a split decision win over Columbia’s Yeni Castanada, as did Simranjit Kaur after she defeated Ireland’s Amy Broadhurst.
These results mean Indian boxers are assured of at least four bronze medals in the tournament.
However, four Indians also dropped out of the reckoning for medals. Upstart Manisha Maun, who has turned heads in the tournament with her confidence inside the ring, lost her quarterfinal bout to Bulgaria’s Stoyka Petrova in a split decision.
Manisha had punched above her weight during her time in the tournament and again showed flashes of brilliance against her more seasoned opponent, meaning she is clearly one to watch out for in the future.
Aside from her, Bhagyabati Kachari and Pinki Rani lost their matches to Colombia’s Jessica Sinisterra and North Korea’s Pang Chol Mi, respectively.
In one of the final bouts of the day, Seema Poonia also lost to China’s Yang Xiaoli by unanimous decision.
Indian boxers have won a combined total of 28 medals in previous editions of the Women’s World Championships in – 8 golds, 6 silvers and 14 bronze.
Four more will be added to that tally and with home support in their corner, India’s remaining boxers will now strive to ensure that all four medals are gold.