TODAY -

Celebrity Mary Kom should now be Boxer Mary Kom again!

By Ranjan Yumnam *

A photo profile on Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom
A photo profile on Mangte Chungneijang Mary Kom :: Picture Credit :: Donny Luwang / MC Mary Kom



These last three months of my life, I can't stay away from Mary Kom—not by choice, but by compulsion. Daily encounter with Mary Kom is a fait accompli like seeing the sun rising from the east at the break of the dawn. You don't think about Mary Kom, she happens to you. That is because after she won a bronze medal at the London Olympics, she is almost everywhere - she looms above you from the huge billboards erected at strategic places on your way to office; when you turn on the TV after work, she pleasantly surprises you by her appearance in the Indian soap opera, prime time talk shows, talent hunts, ribbon cutting events in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and countless other venues.

When she is not doing any of these, she is invited to dos of B-town celebrities, rubbing shoulders with the likes of living legends like actor Amitabh Bachhan and singer Lata Mangeshkar, to name just two. Last seen, Mary Kom along with Saina Nehwal and other Olympians visited the angry young man of Indian film to wish him on his birthday. They looked like equals, posing for photo-ops with the knowing smile that they are the towering figures in their own respective fields.

It seems the entire celebrity-dom of India can't have enough of Mary Kom enamoured as they are with the narrative of her astonishing and inspiring journey from a village in Manipur to the boxing ring of the Olympics in London through sheer hard work and determination in spite of odds stacked against her. And mind you, these odds were stupendous and to a person of average mental strength, they would have seemed too daunting to even try to overcome. But to Mary Kom, challenges are to be gamed - and she did it with such a spectacular finesse.

Mary Kom has also broken another glass ceiling into fragments. She is by far the only sport star from Manipur who has entered into the rarefied league of mainstream sports celebrities who have bagged endorsement deals of premium brands. She is not just a flash in the pan and what can be more mainstream than this: Sportspro, a sports magazine based in London, has ranked Mary Kom the 38th most marketable athlete in the world. The ranking is decided taking into account her marketing potential over the next three years and after considering factors like age, home market, charisma, crossover appeal and value for money. To get a perspective of what this means for the pugilist from Manipur, consider the fact that the legendary golfer Tiger Woods occupies the 47th place in the list of 50 most marketable athletes compiled by the Sportpro. Which means, Mary Kom is not the girl next door anymore - she is a big international brand now.

It is apt that Intelligent Life, a British bimonthly culture and lifestyle magazine from the venerable Economist stable described her thus: Mary Kom, boxer, mother, five-time world champion and habitual destroyer of stereotypes. (Departing from tradition of covering non-sports subjects, Intelligent Life featured Mary Kom as the cover story in its July/August issue).

Of course, Mary Kom deserves all the attention and adulation that have come her way after her sporting feat at the London Olympics. She should cherish every bit of it. At the moment she is busy receiving trophies, cash rewards, land, keys to apartments in numerous felicitation programmes held in her honour from a grateful nation that is won over by her talent, grit and her signature smile. In her free time, she walks the ramp in charity fundraising fashion shows and teams up with her colleague Olympians to support worthy causes.

While Mary is doing whatever she is doing, I am bombarded by information overload. What Mary Kom says or does, it's news now. And this constant stream of merry news needs processing for the sake of clarification and significance. Recent notifications appearing in my iPad while I was sleeping tell me Mary Kom has become the brand ambassador of Super Fight League, owned by Raj Kundra, Shilpa Shetty and Sanjay Dutt. According to the source, SFL will organise Pro Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) sporting event in India to be live-streamed across the globe weekly. Good news.

Second news ticker flashed: "Mary has launched international brand Tommy Hilfiger's children-wear store in Mumbai." Good. Another one came while I was boarding a plane and it informed me that Mahindra and Mahindra presented her a Bolero SUV as they think the vehicle and the boxer share the same philosophy: "Take on Anything".

Then the icing on the cake which is common knowledge now. A biopic on Mary Kom to be produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali is in the works. It instantly comes to my mind that a biopic on a living person is so rare and the most recent one I saw was on Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. This is deep.

Even for an armchair observer like me, the frenetic pace at which life is changing for Mary Kom seems maddening. To Mary Kom, it must be overwhelming and a technicolour dream come true. It is amazing that Mary Kom has so far handled the milestones taking place in her life in a graceful manner, full of poise and humility inspite of her epic achievement.

Mary Kom has earned a lot of goodwill and love from people all over the world, and at the moment her bank of goodwill is full. It takes great deal of wisdom to use it for the right purpose at the right time. Goodwill, though intangible, is perishable and has a shelf life. There is the fear that too much exposure in the media may fritter away that hard earned goodwill and respect.

Second, given the meteoric rise of Mary Kom into the celebrity firmament, full time image management for Mary Kom has become necessary. As we know, fame is transient. Novelty wears off. An actor is as good as his last film. And for a sportstar, her peak performance in the premier championship will remain the birthmark of her career forever, a legacy to leave behind. Mary Kom should set her sights on the next big leap and stay focused.

Third, there will be demands on her time for gracing numerous functions and association with interest groups of all hues. The foremost guiding principle in picking and choosing which causes to espouse is to ask this question: does it leverage my career, the kind of persona I want to build, the experience I had, the contribution I can make towards that cause.

Likewise, for commercial endorsements also, Mary Kom should choose and pick brands that complements her unique attributes and should not stray into domains that hardly relates to her. It may be recalled that when Amitabh Bacchan was in dire financial straits wrought on by his sinking company, ABCL, he appeared in so many poorly produced TV ads for downmarket products ranging from hair oil, soaps, sanitary products, and what not. It was seen as an act of desperation to grab quick money on the part of the ageing actor. Govinda, another Bollywood actor, went for pan masala, underwear, dubious herbal products that really don't help either the product or the endorser. Cutting short, we don't want to see Mary Kom doing uncharacteristic and ridiculous ads in the future just for financial gains that ultimately could dilute her starpower.

But at the end of the day, Mary Kom is Mary Kom. She is the biggest icon of Manipur now, in fact with more emblematic value than Kanglasha. She has highlighted and brought sharp spotlight on Manipur and repositioned the tiny State on the world map. Her success also reinforced the belief that sports is a great leveler, irrespective of one's background.

But I believe Mary Kom's journey is not yet over; it has just started. If London Olympics proved her mettle, then Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014 and Rio De Janeiro Olympics in 2016 could well cement her position as the greatest woman boxer world has ever seen. To that end, Mary should stop being celebrity for a while and concentrate on what she does best and spend more time where she belongs: boxing ring.

Once these mega events are over - hopefully with flying colours for Mary Kom - and when she decides to contemplate retirement from professional boxing, there are many options from which she could cherrypick one or two. It may be too premature now but I can envision some options. For one, Mary Kom could become the fulltime ambassador of Manipur sports and tourism - two undertapped goldmines of Manipur.

She could get involved in speaking events and even launch a fresh career in motivational lecture circuit, which is a growing industry, what with TED events becoming magnets for the rich, famous and the achievers.

Most importantly, she can finally run her dream Boxing Academy in Manipur and expand it to other bases outside State like a branded franchise under her name.

Other than these, here and there, she can lend her voice to worthy local causes to draw attention of the deaf-mute Indian media and the generally cavalier New Delhi.

These are just my knee jerk speculations and I don't know for sure what she will ultimately do. But what I know she should never do is this: joining politics. I fear politics may undo whatever goodwill and respect boxing gave her and it will suck her into its dirty cesspool. She is far above it.

Time flies, and it's high time Mary Kom got back into the real business of boxing. She shouldn't let the famous Mumbai and Delhi types ruin her preparation and if dragged, she should politely tell them the party is over for now, ciao.

How I wish Mary Kom is humming her favourite Manipuri song right now, "Khangna khangna khanghoudeko houkhre matamse, kallak ida kallak ida bidyasakhi" and start taking the right decisions and steps closer to her quest for world domination in boxing her category.

Perhaps, she already is. To that prospect, let us chant thousands cheers for Mary Kom.
Kom on, Mary!



(Views expressed are personal and do not represent official position)




Ranjan Yumnam


* Ranjan Yumnam is a frequent contributor to e-pao.net, wrote this article for The Sangai Express. The writer can be contacted at ranjanyumnam(at)gmail(dot)com.
This article was posted on October 21, 2012.








* Comments posted by users in this discussion thread and other parts of this site are opinions of the individuals posting them (whose user ID is displayed alongside) and not the views of e-pao.net. We strongly recommend that users exercise responsibility, sensitivity and caution over language while writing your opinions which will be seen and read by other users. Please read a complete Guideline on using comments on this website.




LATEST IN E-PAO.NET
  • Thanthing Kasar (JC Kitt) : music artist
  • Fashion Show @IITF, Delhi : Gallery
  • Hijam Irabot & his collection of Poems
  • Zeliangrongs: Law on murder cases #2
  • Why devastate ourselves, you feel the pain
  • Close up with Robert Naorem
  • More Families Should Come Out :EEVFAM
  • Sharmila wants no one to fast like her
  • Irom Sharmila agitation :: News Timeline
  • Sharmila in Delhi Press Conference
  • DU decision to make hindi compulsory
  • World Heart Day at Nambol
  • Campaign to PM: Repair Manipur Highway
  • September and Lamyanba Irabot
  • Meitei Women in Collectives #1
  • Make Heritage Fun! Imphal : Gallery
  • Irabot, only leader of the oppressed mass
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Heikru Hidongba : Bijoy Govinda
  • The Case against simultaneous polls
  • In the Slums of Heaven :: Poem
  • Indifferent to 16 years of fast
  • Bacardi NH7 Weekender: Shillong Schedule
  • The election cards
  • October deadline for ST demand
  • Non-Local Peoples Bill : Draft [Sep 27]
  • Meeyamgi Luchingba Hijam Irawat :: Articles
  • Losing Trust: Govt & people in Manipur
  • Hijam Irabot -Rare photo #1 :: Wallpaper
  • World Architecture Day: Painting Competition
  • Buddha said, 'War cannot bring peace' #2
  • World Tourism Day, 2016
  • 218 Rajarshi Bhagya Chandra Death Anniv
  • Democracy & Invest in Women's Rights
  • Price of development
  • Cancerous bandh/blockade culture
  • NSF appeals 3 tribal bodies
  • ZPO extends support to Ao Lotha & Sumi
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) :: Timeline
  • Houdong Lamboiba & Pebet :: Funga Wari
  • The Cajon Diaries : Gallery
  • Make Heritage Fun! Imphal
  • Maharaja of Manipur, a moribund institution
  • IFA Open House at Singjamei
  • 50 ISKCON (1966-2016) celebrations #5
  • Development & Displacement Consultation
  • Indian constitution gi Scheduled Tribe list..
  • Sound of Flute mesmerise Imphal audience
  • Course in News Reporting at Ukhrul started
  • Gram Sabha Summary Revision extended
  • No helmet, no fuel: warned petrol pumps
  • Govt forms CSC on Rongmei issue
  • Focus on tribal languages
  • Manipur veterans lift KC Baruah Trophy
  • The trend; Do we need to blame others
  • Public nuisance in the name of fashion
  • Thokchom Anuradha (Hockey) : Gallery
  • Shilheiba, Henkhokai :: eMing
  • Lamlong Keithel #1 : Gallery
  • Featured Photo for year 2016 #4 :: Gallery
  • World Tourism Day at Mapao Zingsho
  • Farm mechanization for employment #1
  • New ILPS related bill soon in social media
  • Over 20 quakes felt across NE in 9 months
  • Hopingson- Ukhrul as 'land of blooms'
  • Reservation row hits varsity
  • Khuga Dam, Churachandpur : Gallery
  • Buddhist Temple in Bangkok #1 : Gallery
  • China: Key Player in Myanmar's Energy #2
  • Zeliangrongs: Law on murder cases #1
  • Reliability of test reports
  • Dont die to be dead, die to live more
  • Bioeconomy can create more employment
  • Govt will table ILPS related bill
  • Assam Rifles conducts Recruitment
  • Chopping to our own foot
  • Chilli Festival @Ukhrul #3: Gallery
  • Sahnit Ni (Black Day) #3 :: Gallery
  • Monsoon Shower Model #3 : Gallery
  • Let's see what Cybercrime is #2
  • Fuel your heart and power your life
  • Public protests and police in Manipur
  • Author who discovers ways of finance in IT
  • MSAD Freshers' Meet 2016 postponed
  • Manipur to encourage use of handloom
  • Ao resolves to disassociate from Naga Hoho
  • Free & Fair Election: Are you sure ?
  • Linda Thangjam (Singer) Gallery : eRang
  • At a cave in Dzukou Valley : Gallery
  • High Court building #2 : Gallery
  • Open Letter to Scheduled Tribe Demand
  • Traffic Circus : Manipur Style #2
  • Posts of JRF at Manipur University
  • Manipur High Court gets new Chief Justice
  • Bomb scare at Imphal airport
  • Deliver information wipe out corruption
  • Loktak lake #6 : Gallery
  • Bishenpur Keithel #2 : Gallery
  • The Cajon Diaries : Initiative by Irom Singthoi
  • Politicians Without Ethics In Manipur
  • Kukis' perspective on Black Day, 13 Sept
  • Charming transgender out to conquer world
  • Australia, Canada, UK issue travel advisory
  • The Killing Fields (2013-16) :: Timeline
  • BNHS conservation initiatives in North East
  • PIL against PHSC occupation at Thonglang
  • The right beginning
  • Rally: Appeal Against Bandhs: Gallery
  • Khunung Eeshei by Goshe #1 :: e-pao Radio
  • NEROCA FC Vs FC Zalen @MSL #3: Gallery
  • AMAND, Pune - AGM #2 : Gallery
  • A Tribute to Reverend Malungchang Longvah
  • Tentacles in population dynamics of Manipur
  • How are countries taking care of ageing
  • Digital India Workshop at RGU, Arunachal
  • Climate adaptation projects for Northeast
  • Troops from NE should not be withdrawn
  • Election 2017 - Agenda Manipur
  • Meetei ST demand Rally : Gallery
  • ILP: Students/Police [Sep 14] #2 : Gallery
  • A Community of shared interest ...
  • Manipur unrest : Before 3 Bills and beyond
  • Current scenario of polio vaccine
  • MSAD Annual Fresher's Meet 2016
  • Sep 18 rally mapung fahanbagi thagatchari
  • Crime against nature
  • Flash Flood at Churachandpur :: Gallery
  • Sahnit Ni (Black Day) #2 :: Gallery
  • World Bamboo Day @Chandigarh : Gallery
  • Heikru Hidongba #2 : Gallery
  • International Day of Democracy : 2016
  • Naorem 'Weaves of Manipur' at Mysore
  • World Bamboo Day at Panjab University
  • Opposing voices: Debate on ST status
  • Langban Heitha Leithaba : Gallery
  • Mind your mind before it's late!!
  • Rumours & bloody September #2
  • Irabot Day Observance at New Delhi
  • 66th Birthday of PM Narendra Modi
  • Blood donation at Loktak Power Station
  • Stop efforts to disintegrate Manipur: UCM
  • Pak Baloch reply: Northeast
  • 2 injured in shootout in Imphal
  • ILP: Students/Police [Sep 14] #1 : Gallery
  • RIMS Foundation Day : Gallery
  • Let's talk Manipur's football
  • Horrors behind annual homage on Sahnit Ni
  • Seminar: Corruption & Governance in NE
  • ILP System Demand- Photos from 2012
  • IM arrests 19 yr old for comment
  • Battle of wits continues: Gems from seniors
  • The inadvertent fallout
  • AMAND, Pune - AGM #1 : Gallery
  • ABC Zero (Scenes) #1 :: eRang
  • NEROCA FC Vs FC Zalen @MSL #2: Gallery
  • Featured Photos from RNPlive.in : Gallery
  • The concept of Langban Tarpan
  • Annual General Body Meeting of AMAND
  • Speaker accepts resignation of MLAs
  • Sahnit Ni (Black Day) #1 :: Gallery
  • BJP president Amit Shah : Gallery
  • NEROCA FC Vs FC Zalen @MSL #1: Gallery
  • ILP: Students/Police [Sep 10] #2: Gallery
  • Communal Harmony and Integration
  • Battling with 3 diseases & still going strong
  • Released Rs 100 cr to Manipur till Aug
  • Indo-Naga Talks : News Timeline
  • Eid-ul-Zuha @Thoubal Moijing : Gallery
  • When will Manipur have IISc, IISER, AIIMS
  • ILP Demand - Photos from 2012 :: Gallery
  • Seed banks for banking local variety of seed
  • Heikru Hidongba #1 : Gallery
  • Community Flower Plantation : Gallery
  • Rih-ngai and Mayasvi festivals #2
  • Aribam Syam Retrospective & Masterclass
  • Audition conducted for Garnier Fashion
  • Rail Construction @Noney : Gallery
  • Run Raise Respond - marathon: Gallery
  • Autonomous District Council in NE #3
  • TSE on completing 17 years : Looking back
  • ILP: Students/Police [Sep 10] #1: Gallery
  • Manipur in backdrop of AFSPA & Sharmila #2
  • Eibusu Yaohanbiyu - Scenes #2 :: eRang
  • International Literacy Day : Gallery
  • A visit to Ayutthaya, Thailand #2 : Gallery
  • Meitei Marriage- Its Rules and Practices #2
  • Star Kamei's Shon : eRang Classic
  • Anal Cultural Dance :: Ooba Video
  • Manipur Male Weavers Expo: Gallery
  • Wuya Kachui : A Misty Paradise
  • Non-Manipur Peoples' Bill : JCILPS
  • 6 Rio Olympians felicitated: Gallery
  • Ningel - Natural Salt Factory : Gallery
  • Khongjom :: 360° Panorama
  • Dzuko Lily, Dzuko valley #5 : Gallery
  • Manipuri Atheletes at Olympic 2016 Rio
  • Kabow Valley : Gallery
  • Manipur Phone Directory :: e-pao Tools
  • SPONSORED ADS