I have not announced retirement: Mary Kom

Mary Kom dispels retirement rumors
Mary Kom
Mary Kom

New Delhi | Her future is a subject of intense speculation since that final Olympic appearance in Tokyo back in 2021 but celebrated Indian woman boxer M C Mary Kom on Thursday refuted talk of retirement even though she is on the wrong side of the international cut-off age for amateur boxers.

The 41-year-old six-time world champion, who won an Olympic bronze in the 2012 London edition, found herself at the centre of a social media storm after reportedly declaring that due to the 40-year age cap for amateur boxers, she has been forced to retire.

In a statement this morning, she declared that she had been misquoted and a formal announcement of retirement is still some time away.

"I haven't announced retirement yet and I have been misquoted. I will personally come in front of media whenever I want to announce it. I have gone through some media reports stating that I have announced retirement and this is not true," the Manipuri flyweight (51kg) category boxer asserted.

She then tried to give context to her earlier comment, insisting that she was merely talking about the international rules and not referring to herself specifically.

"I was attending a school event in Dibrugarh (Assam) on 24 January 2024 wherein I was motivating children and I said 'I still have hunger of achieving in sports but age limit in Olympics doesn't allow me to participate though I can carry on with my sport'," she said.

"I am still focusing on my fitness and whenever I will announce retirement I will inform everyone. Please do correct this," she added.

Mary Kom has not been seen in action since her pre-quarterfinal loss in the Tokyo Olympics, which was her last appearance at the quadrennial showpiece.

She attempted to appear for the 2022 Commonwealth Games trials but had to pull out on the day of the selection bouts due to a torn ACL (Anterior Cruciate Ligament) for which she underwent a surgery.

However, she resumed training after rehabilitation last year and insisted that she has another 3-4 competitive years left in her even though Olympics was now out of bounds for her.

Amid her gradual withdrawal, Nikhat Zareen has taken over the 51kg slot, and claimed two back-to-back world titles, the latest one coming last year.

Mary Kom, on the other hand, has been seen in several administrative roles given to her by the Indian Olympic Association.

She recently headed an IOA oversight panel which investigated the sexual harassment charges levelled by some top women wrestlers against the then wrestling federation head Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh.

What has added to the intrigue surrounding her is her decision to stay away from professional boxing where there is no age bar.

She is unarguably one of the most decorated Indian sportspersons of all time with six asian titles to go alongside her half a dozen world gold medals. The world body for amateur boxing gave her the moniker 'Magnificent Mary' as a tribute to her unparalleled achievements.

The mother of four is a Khel Ratna awardee and also served as a Rajya Sabha MP.

She was bestowed with the country's second highest civilian award -- the Padma Vibhushan -- in 2020.

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