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Mar 16, 2008 at 07:33am IST

Pugilist fights apathy, brings laurels

Imphal: Manipur's MC Marykom is truly an unsung hero. Most of sports fans might not even know that she is a three-time world boxing champion. But that has not stopped her from doing her bit to give back something to the game and her people.

Marykom won her first gold medal at the second World Women's Boxing Championships in 2002 in Turkey and then followed it up with gold medals at the third World Women's Boxing Championships in 2005 in Austria.

She also won a gold at the fourth World Women's Boxing Championships in 2006 in New Delhi.

Even though Marykom has won laurels for the country at the highest level, yet her name is unfamiliar to most Indians.

She lives in a small village on the outskirts of Imphal and has battled poverty and lack of proper infrastructure to become a world-class boxer.

But after dominating the boxing ring for years, Marykom sometimes feels that there are not many takers for her achievements.

"Main India ke liye itna perform kiya magar do hi sponsor mila main doosra games ke liye zyada milna chahiye. Lekin kisi koh maloom nahin hai aur Northeast side ke soch ke sponsor nahin mila. Kabhi kabhi main bahut dukh lagta hoon ki India ke liye bahut kiya aur company log ne sponsor nahin kiya aur recognise nahi kiya (I have won gold medals for India but there are just two sponsors. In any other game there would have been many sponsors. But no one knows me and being form the Northeast has its own disadvantages. No company is willing to sponsor me), " a sad Marykom reveals.

Early in the morning Marycom is out in field, training young aspiring boxers from nearby villages.

She also takes care of their diet and also provides them the training kits, all at her own expense.

Though the training facilities are very basic, she has big dreams for her young boxers. And one day Marykom hopes to start a full-fledged training academy of her own.

"It will be very satisfying if I win a medal at Olympics or Asian Games," she says.

And Marykom will not rest until she and her boxers become a force Indians can no longer ignore in the world of sports.