Make no mistake, Mary Kom has been a fighter all her life, and we’re not just talking about her time in the ring. Her prolific rise to the apex of professional Indian boxing is as inspiring as it is heart touching; but she’s outdone herself in many other spheres of life too. Mary Kom’s marriage is a rock, an incredible story of two great people in love.
Born in the Himalayas, Mary’s journey to boxing glory and eventual fame was riddled with hardship, hardship that she always faced head-first with a clenched fist. She has been the source of inspiration to many, who look up to her as the symbol of courage, and dedication towards a definite goal. Everything Mary Kom has accomplished has been through hard work, and not just by a stroke of luck or chance. But if it is her love life we’re talking about, then Mary Kom’s marriage can be, coincidence or Cupid, can definitely be attributed with bringing Mary and her husband Karung Onkholer Kom together! If you think it’s all a filmy love story, then you’d be correct, so let’s lay it out for you and look at just how it happened!
The Making Of Mary Kom
Mary Kom was born Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom on 1st March 1983 in Manipur in a peasant family. Mary had most of her early education around her native city, but after her eighth grade moved to the state capital, Imphal, for higher studies.
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The young Mary always had a keen interest in athletics but her moment of ultimate inspiration came when the Manipuri boxer Dingko Singh won the gold medal at the 1998 Asian games in Thailand. After that event, she made up her mind to take up boxing as a professional career and began training at the at the age of 17 in the year 2000. Her major break came the next year, when she won the first medal (silver) of her life at Women’s World Amateur Boxing Championships in 2001. Since then she went on to participate in various internationally acclaimed boxing championships but in spite of winning several golds remained an unnoticed and unsung hero. It was finally her bronze medal win at the 2012 Olympics that escalated her popularity to a whole new level, and brought her the immense and deserved recognition that she enjoys today.
In late 2013, Mary Kom released her autobiography, Unbreakable. It covered Mary Kom’s marriage and her career. In 2014 a film titled Mary starring Priyanka Chopra chronicled the life of the boxer. The movie was critically praised, and it instantaneously and rightfully made Mary Kom a household name in the country.
The Train Journey That Changed It All
The story of their love, and Mary Kom’s marriage to Karung Onkholer, began like most love stories, with a twist of events. It was the year 2000 and 17-year old Mary Kom was travelling in a train to Bangalore from her native village. After he sojourn in Bangalore, she had to further travel northwards to New Delhi from where she would head to Punjab for National Games.
When it comes to trains, Mary had a nasty experience earlier in the past which involved her wallet being stolen on a previous jouney. To prevent a reprise experience, this time she strapped her suitcase, which even had her passport, to her wrist before going to sleep on her berth. In spite of all the precautions, Mary woke up the next morning to find only the chain dangling from her hand, and her suitcase missing! She was totally devastated since her suitcase had all her valuables, money and even her passport. The resilient lady somehow managed to reach New Delhi but was worried deep inside since she needed her passport for the upcoming international boxing championship the next month. But how will she get a passport so quick, so soon?
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Mary was contemplating all the options, while practising at the Nehru Stadium in New Delhi, when a Manipuri boy, nearly the same age as her, approached her and introduced himself. His name was Karung Onkholer, and was the president of the North-East students’ body in New Delhi. Through a common friend, he had heard of the unfortunate incident that had happened with Mary in the train, and he was there to offer his help. He even told her that in case she needed some financial help or some home-cooked food, she can get in touch with him. Mary was touched by his gesture, and that marked the beginning of their friendship. One day she visited Karung at his place for lunch, and that was starting point of their solid rapport. By 2001, Mary and Karung were dating each other. Mary Kom’s marriage to Karung Onkholer would go one to happen a couple of years later. Speaking of their first interaction, Karung had the following words to share about his thoughts when he first saw Mary at the Nehru stadium.
“I first met Mary at the Nehru Stadium in Delhi. I saw this girl; she had short hair and a lot of gumption. I knew she wanted to become a boxer against odds.”
– Karung Onkholer about his first meeting with Mary Kom
The Bond Strengthens, Mary Kom’s Marriage
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Karung managed to get a new passport for Mary, and it is said that it was he who managed to amass funds to sponsor Mary for her first World Amateur Boxing Championship – A championship that Mary went on to win five times! The couple dated each other for four years, and in 2005, decided to get married. Mary and Karung tied the knot in a church in Imphal in 2005. It was the sweetest culmination of their friendship, and in an interview sometime after Karung and Mary Kom’s marriage, Karung shared the following words:
“I had my own destiny, but when I came to know her it changed. It’s not that she is very beautiful or that she is famous. I married her for her simplicity and her willingness to be a successful sportswoman.”
– Karung Onkholer about his wife Mary Kom
Life After Marriage: An Example To Us All
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Mary and Karung were blessed with twin sons in 2007, whom they named Rechungvar and Khupneivar. They had their third child in 2013, a son whom they named Prince. Mary and Karung have been a stellar example of the dedication and respect one should inculcate in a marriage. While Mary goes on tours, or is busy training, Karung takes care of their three children and ensures that domestic matters do not become a barrier between Mary and her goals. He has done everything a doting husband should do to make his wife’s dreams come true. Mary once shared the following words of admiration for her husband:
“If there’s any problem in the family, my husband never tells me about it. He says, ‘Don’t think about the children, don’t think about us. You just concentrate on your training’.”
Now that is one super husband! It is always great and inspiring to read about Mary Kom’s boxing career. But even Mary Kom’s marriage life seems to be a textbook example (and lesson) of a good love life. We hope it always stays that way, and wish the couple and their family all the very best for the future!