India’s best-ever boxer Mary Kom said Tuesday she has no plans to retire and is determined to defy her critics by winning an elusive Olympic gold.
Kom, 35, won gold on debut at the Commonwealth Games in Australia last week, complementing a trophy cabinet packed with five amateur world championship titles and an Olympic bronze from London 2012.
But India’s most accomplished pugilist, feted at home as “Magnificent Mary”, says the best is yet to come and has rubbished suggestions she could be close to hanging up the gloves.
“I have never talked about retirement, they were just rumours. Even I was shocked when I heard about my retirement,” Kom told reporters in New Delhi as India’s boxing team returned from the Gold Coast with three gold, three silver and three bronze medals.
“An Olympic Gold is what I am still dreaming.”
Kom was devastated to miss out on a wildcard entry for the Rio 2016 Olympics and said she was aiming for Olympic gold in Tokyo 2020.
The mother-of-three won a record fifth Asian women’s championship title in November last year — defying critics who suggested Kom was approaching retirement age.
“Who said my age is a factor? Come up and I will show what I can do,” she said in jest when asked about boxing in her mid-thirties.
“This (age issue) should be taken out of the mind. I will know when my body will not allow me to carry on.”
The veteran fighter and subject of a blockbuster Bollywood film said she was preparing for the Asian Games, world championship and more and “will try my best” as she pursues gold in Tokyo.
Kom conceded she had a busy schedule — as a professional athlete, parent, gym owner and lawmaker — but warned her opponents against assuming she had too much on her plate.
“I have taken this challenge to keep fighting at 35 or 36. No one can guarantee winning or losing, but when I train nobody can beat me easily,” she said.