16 years after winning her first World Championship title, and eight years since her last, MC Mary Kom has rewritten boxing history. The Indian legend downed Ukraine’s Hanna Okhoto in the 48 kg final at the 2018 World Championships in New Delhi on Saturday, 24 November, to become the first woman to win six World Championship gold medals – moving ahead of Katie Taylor’s five, while also drawing level with men’s six-time world champion Felix Savon.
As ‘Magnificent Mary’ achieves arguably the highest high in a storied career, here’s a jog down memory lane to relive all six of her World Championship titles.
2002: The Arrival at Antalya
Having missed out on gold at the final hurdle at the inaugural AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships in Pennsylvania as an 18-year-old, Mary made amends at the very next time of asking.
After competing in the 48 kg event at the maiden WBC, she cut her weight down to enter the 45 kg field for the next edition in Antalya, Turkey – a decision which proved telling as Mary went one better on her silver from 2001 when she beat North Korea’s Jang Song-Ae to win the first major gold medal of her career.
2005: Roaring Again in Russia
There was a three-year wait until the next World Boxing Championships, but Mary’s stock in the sport was only rising.
By now an Asian champion in addition to her world title, Mary took the field in an adjusted 46 kg category in the Russian city of Podolsk. She faced up to another North Korean in the summit clash in Jong Ok, and delivered the killer blow again to retain her world title.
2006: A Hat-Trick Sealed at Home
Just a year later came a shot at a hat-trick of World Championship crowns, with the added pleasure – and pressure – of getting to do it at home.
An adoring audience at New Delhi’s Talkatora Stadium wasn’t left disappointed. Victory over Romania’s Steluta Duta made Mary only the second female boxer to complete a hat-trick of WBC gold medals.
2008: Four-in-a-Row in China
The two-year break between New Delhi 2006 and Ningbo 2008 had seen a notable change in Mary’s life. Married and a mother of two, India’s incon had taken time away from the sport, but returned with a silver at the Asian Championships.
Carrying the confidence into the WBC in China, Mary once again got the better of Romanian Duta in a rematch of the 2006 final to make it four world titles in a row.
2010: Breaking Record Books in Barbados
By the time the next edition arrived, staged in Bridgetown, Barbados, Mary’s weight category had changed to 48 kg in accordance with AIBA adjustments. Seemingly in the prime of her career, the 27-year-old reached the Caribbean shores in search of history.
For the third WBC final in a row, Mary Kom and Steluta Duta locked horns in the title clash of the lowest weight category. For the third WBC in a row, the Indian emerged victorious – this one making her the first woman to win five World Championship gold medals in a row.
2018: Sixth Heaven, Eight Years On
Indian eyes rested more on one competitor than all others as the WBC returned to New Delhi for the 2018 edition. Life had changed all-the-more for the now 35-year-old Mary.
Now a mother of three, and a Member of Parliament in the Rajya Sabha, she had returned from a lengthier break from the sport with a string of successful results through the year – a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, a first for an Indian female boxer, being the highlight.
But this was the big one. In front of a packed, and partisan, home crowd, Mary took on an opponent 13 years her junior – Ukrainian Hanna Okhota was six when Mary first became a world champion in 2002 – and delivered.
A 5-0 unanimous decision by the judges made India’s only female Olympic medallist in boxing the most successful female boxer in all World Championship history.
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