No. 17: Mary Kom boxes her way into history in London


The story till then

When boxing became only the 35th Olympic sporting discipline, across both summer and winter games, to be thrown open to participation for women in 2012, the flyweight (51kg) category had a star-studded cast of contenders, including five-time world champion MC Mary Kom of India.

The moment
As expected, Kom went through the early rounds with ease, before her semi-final against Great Britain's Nicola Adams, who had beaten her in that year's world championship, which served as a qualifier for the Olympics. Their bout turned out to be a fiercely contested 11-6 score in favour of Adams, who went on to win the gold. Kom won India's first medal in women's boxing by virtue of having made the semi-finals.

The reaction
"[Before] the last six to seven years, only a few people used to know what boxing was. But now, after [watching] the Olympics, the Commonwealth Games, the Asian Games - and, of course, after the movie Mary Kom was released - more people are aware of what boxing is."
- Mary Kom

Expert view
"Mary Kom's Olympic bronze came on the back of sustained supremacy as world champion, making it more creditable. The sport of women's boxing, especially in the Olympic movement, was still in its early days, though."
- Charu Sharma, commentator

The story since
Since her London bronze, the only medal Kom has won was the gold at the 2014 Asian Games, but her popularity as an Indian sporting icon peaked following the release of a biopic, starring popular actor Priyanka Chopra in the title role. Kom failed to add a record sixth gold medal in the 2016 world championships in Kazakhstan (she would have surpassed Katie Taylor of Ireland if she had done), and also didn't qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.