Mary Kom: Get to know India's boxing superstar

The smell of smoke fills the air. Plumes rise silently and menacingly over the hilly horizon, slowly blotting out the...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 12:39 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 12:39 PM

The smell of smoke fills the air. Plumes rise silently and menacingly over the hilly horizon, slowly blotting out the sun as the sky turns black. The fields are on fire again.

And looking out onto the scene is a small child in a small house, waiting for her parents to come home.

Mary Kom through to gold medal match

Boxer Kom a sporting superstar in India

Cameroon athletes missing

Usain Bolt lands on Gold Coast

This is how life started for Mary Kom, the five-time world amateur boxing champion who will face Northern Ireland's Kristina O'Hara in the Commonwealth Games' 48kg final on Sunday.

The 35-year-old Indian superstar grew up in the small village of Kangathei in Manipur, described as a poor state in north-east India that borders Myanmar. Her family worked in the jhum fields as tenant farmers to bring in what little wages they could to support their family.

It was labor intensive work in a state where the slash and burn form of agriculture is still practiced.

The hardship of life in Manipur and the poverty of the region stirred an ambition in Kom, who wanted something better out of life.

She had a natural ability in boxing -- taking after her father who was a fine wrestler -- and soon became state champion with the nickname "Magnificent Mary."

Five world championships and an Olympic bronze medal later, Kom now has enough money to support her family and has become not only a hero in her village but in the entire country of 1.3 billion people where female sporting superstars are rare. She is approaching 1 million followers on Twitter.

An inspiration

Kom is indeed seen as an inspiration to female athletes and women in general across India, pushing the boundaries of what sportswomen can achieve -- especially when she came back to the ring after getting married and having three children.

Kom even carried the Queen's baton at the 2010 Delhi Commonwealth Games despite women's boxing not being an event that year, an indication of just how much her country loves and respects her.

She is seen as a true sporting legend and is now a member of the Rajya Sabha -- the upper house of India's parliament -- and has opened up her own gym to inspire the next generation of India's boxers.

It is a true story of rags to riches and would make for an amazing Hollywood -- or rather Bollywood -- script. Unsurprisingly, the movie studios agreed and "Mary Kom" the film was released in 2014 with Bollywood giant and Quantico star Priyanka Chopra -- she has 22.4 million followers on Twitter -- playing Kom in the lead role.

But whether there will be a happy ending on the Gold Coast for India's golden girl on her Games debut remains to be seen.

Kom also has her sights on the women's world championships in Delhi later this year.

Meanwhile there were 15 gold medals up for grabs on Wednesday. Here are the highlights of day seven.

Cameroon athletes go missing

A third of Cameroon's Commonwealth Games team have gone missing. Five boxers and three weightlifters have disappeared over the space of three days according to a team statement.

READ: Eight Cameroon athletes go missing at Australia's Commonwealth Games

Bolt lands

Sprinting legend Usain Bolt landed on the Gold Coast Wednesday to take up his position as the official Games ambassador. He took time to deliver his trademark pose with the Games' official mascot Borobi, who seemed quite enamored with the world's fastest man.

She-Cranes bow out after heroic effort

The Ugandan netball team, everyone's favorite underdogs of the Commonwealth Games, missed out on a semifinal place despite beating Scotland 57-37 in their final group match. The She Cranes had needed to win by 40 points to progress to the semis.

However, it was a heroic effort from a team that has made history throughout the Games.

READ: Peace Proscovia -- Ugandan defies cultural norms & father's wishes to follow netball dream

Chase-ing the dream

Bernard Chase of Barbados finished second last in his 50m pistol event on Wednesday but just being there was an amazing achievement.

The 63-year-old grandfather and fruit and vegetable farmer had a heart attack while riding his bike in 2017 and had to undergo emergency surgery.

But Chase managed to recover and was able to compete in his fourth Commonwealth Games.

Family Legacy

Scottish diver James Heatly won bronze in the men's 1m springboard final Wednesday, replicating his grandfather's success in the diving competition.

Visit our sports page for more sports stories

Sir Patrick Heatly won five Commonwealth medals -- three of which were gold -- and competed in two Olympic Games back in 1948 and 1952 before passing away in 2015.

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