M.C. Mary Kom - Indian, 29, Boxing (New)
If the introduction of women’s boxing is likely to be one of the major talking points of London’s Olympic Games this summer then it is odds-on that a 29-year-old Indian mother-of-two will be front and centre of the story.
Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom has certainly been waiting for her Olympic moment for quite some time. She has already been world champion five times, with a string of other honours to her name, and an Olympic gold medal in the 51kg division she has dominated for years has the potential to turn her into an Indian sporting legend and a role model for young Indian women.
Despite its huge population, Olympic golds have been thin on the ground for India – indeed, shooter Abhinav Bindra was the country’s first individual gold medallist in Beijing – but Kom, the daughter of a farmer, has had the kind of humble beginnings and a family-oriented appeal that could make her the archetypal national heroine.
Her Olympic journey has been supported by a not-for-profit initiative called Olympic Gold Quest, designed to support India’s Olympians to greater success, while outside the ring Kom has already set up the eponymous M.C. Mary Kom Boxing Academy for youngsters looking to follow in her footsteps.
Beyond London there will be plenty of commercial opportunities for Kom’s management group, Delhi-based IOS Sports and Entertainment, to explore, especially if she can meet expectations and become India’s golden girl.