New Delhi: Her personal high of being awarded the Padma Bhushan has coincided with turbulent times for Indian boxing, leaving Olympic bronze-medallist M C Mary Kom with "mixed feelings" about getting country's third highest civilian honour.
"Obviously, it is a great honour to be considered worthy for this award but at the same time I am saddened by the current state of affairs in Indian boxing. So, it is a case of mixed feelings for me," the Olympic bronze-medallist, who is already a Padma Shri, told PTI over phone from her home in Manipur.
"It is actually a pleasant surprise for me because I don't think anyone was talking about me," she said.
Indian boxing was dealt a knock-out blow when the world body AIBA provisionally suspended the IABF for "possible manipulation" in elections last year.
Initially the boxers were exempted from suspension but due to the "lack of progress" made by IABF in putting its house in order, the AIBA earlier this year barred the pugilists from international competitions.
"I am worried about where we are headed. Youngsters are a big concern. We can't compete in any international event which would affect our motivation and performance," she explained.
"These are tough times for Indian boxing. This could have been avoided but now that we have been penalised, I hope the matter would be resolved soon so that the boxers don't suffer for too long," she said.
The five-time world champion is already a recipient of the country's highest sporting honour - The Khel Ratna -, the Arjuna award besides being the International Boxing Association (AIBA's) Ambassador for Women's Boxing.
The 29-year-old mother-of-two said after years of blood and sweat inside the ring, she is finally enjoying the rewards and the more they come, the merrier it is for her.
"It is rewards time for me right now and I am enjoying it. No matter how many you have already got, you can never really stop getting excited about the next," she laughed.
"Right now, I can say I am going through the best phase.
I have got an Olympic medal, my kids are happy and healthy, I am being recognised, I couldn't have asked for more. I feel blessed and humbled," the diminutive boxer said.
Asked about the controversies that have plagued the selections for the Padma awards, Mary Kom broke into a giggle before saying, "I am happy for mine and everyone knows that it is deserved. I won't go into other aspects of it."