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
  • Khoupum Valley & Cave #3 : Gallery
  • Neroca FC kit distribution : Gallery
  • Gita-Govinda : Synopsis of Play
  • BJP vs Congress: Setting the right agenda
  • The Northeast migrants in Delhi #1
  • Economic blockade : Why it matters?
  • Intensifying Global Crisis & Conflict #3
  • EVM / VVPAT familiarization Campaign
  • Indo-Naga Talks 2017 :: News Timeline
  • Inadvertently strengthening Cong : Election
  • Timely action
  • USPA Vs Manipur : Women's Polo #1: Gallery
  • Combing operation @Thangal Bazar: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @ Namguilong #2: Gallery
  • Atonna, Chanaphul, Morungkham :: eMing
  • Kabuliwallah : Synopsis of Play
  • On MCSCCE-2016 : Open letter to MPSC
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • The Fruit :: Poem
  • Sadar Hills Demand 2011-2017 : Timeline
  • Zeliang asked to step in
  • Ensuring Nagaland State Diversity Policy
  • Director of Education(S) : admission norms
  • Election Code : Facilities for Observers
  • Issuing invite to UNC for talks
  • Trekking to Dzukou Valley #1: Gallery
  • Keibul Lamjao - Play synopsis
  • This Way, That way or Highway
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #3
  • Bandhs and blockades of Manipur
  • A Boat on the River :: Poem
  • RIST talk 25: Dynamics of Deep Eutectics
  • Election Model Code : Requisition of Staff
  • General Body Meeting of CADA
  • Germany hosts 35 soccer players
  • LDFM likely to play key role
  • The Killing Fields :: News Timeline
  • Time to make AFSPA a poll issue
  • Politics in Manipur
  • Meiteilon Folk & Tangkhul duet : Ooba
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #3: Gallery
  • How to be unique among private schools
  • The measuring Tape :: Poem
  • Points On Election Manifesto in Manipur #4
  • HSE examination Schedule 2017
  • HSLC examination Schedule 2017
  • Election Code : Use of school Grounds
  • Public hearing on Child Rights- Postphoned
  • TSA DJ Celebration Committee Formed
  • Lecture : Democratic Transition in Burma
  • Mary Kom- needs to tackle insurgency
  • Group seeks global support
  • Not the time to pass the buck
  • Lamkhunu Na Chakkouba :: Funga Wari
  • Gaan Ngai @Moirangkhom #1: Gallery
  • Gaan Ngai @Ragailong #2: Gallery
  • Ever smiling Prof Gangmumei
  • Buddhism and politics #2
  • Election Model Code : Use of Loudspeakers
  • Election Model Code : Govt. Scheme
  • Interaction of President Of India
  • Mohammedan signs Reisangmei Vashum
  • Rs. 6.95 lakh cash in new notes seized
  • Dos and don'ts for the media
  • Sanamanbi Sanarei :: eRang Classic
  • Angkor Wat @Cambodia #3: Gallery
  • Kappu Ema Kapsi Penna Ngasidi : Poem
  • ESC for PG Course, MU- abnormal case
  • The old mental baggage
  • Buddhist connection of Hajo in Assam
  • Sadar Hills District Demand :: Articles
  • Women Support Centre launched in Delhi
  • Power of the commoners
  • Gaan Ngai @ Namguilong #1: Gallery
  • Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba #2: Gallery
  • Jangled all the way with Jiangam
  • 2nd Statehood Women Polo Tournament
  • Polo tour to protect rare breed of pony
  • What do Nagas think about Nagas?
  • RIST talk 24: Cosmological Observations
  • Appointment of Director of IGNTU-RCM
  • Alleged Torture of Gaidon Kamei
  • Non-indigenous Nagas filing nominations
  • Key issues missing in run up to polls
  • Assumption but it is possible
  • Lamlong Keithel #5 : Gallery
  • Sonia Nepram bags Young Achiever Award
  • Human Rights in India: UN periodic review III
  • Indian NGOs slam India's human rights
  • God Loves You All The More :: Poem
  • My maiden sojourn of enchanting NE #2
  • Summary Of Electoral Rolls Released
  • Jobs Opening @ Virgo Enterprise
  • Jobs Opening @ Taibang Sintha
  • Questioning the silence of Delhi
  • Political pandemonium: opportunity ...
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #2: Gallery
  • Puthiba Haraoba @Tripura : Gallery
  • Prof Irabanta in the galaxy of Aerobiologist
  • The Naga question
  • Judicious Selection Of Candidates
  • Your financial health
  • Youth Street News 2017 Calendar released
  • Voter Awareness Activities: 11 MLA Election
  • Rijiju blames Manipur govt for eco-blockade
  • Thang-ta fights for recognition
  • Incomplete idea of India as a Nation
  • Unfulfilled promises Who should be blamed
  • Gaan Ngai @ Ragailong #1: Gallery
  • Eyek Tamba :: Learn Manipuri script
  • Significance of Gaan-Ngai festival #1
  • Milk hygiene practice in India
  • Goa International Youth Football Fest
  • 4th WIM Cup 2016 at Goa
  • Fresh impetus to Naga talks
  • Pulling up sleeves before election
  • The public: more than mere numbers
  • Reinterpreting Anglo-Kuki War, 1917-1920
  • Chinglen Nongdrenkhomba #1: Gallery
  • Gaan-Ngai: Zeliangrong Fest :: Flash
  • Gaan-Ngai: Zeliangrong Festival :: Articles
  • Blockade and bandh bonanzas
  • Tangkhul Welfare Society Mumbai - Stmt
  • Model Code of Conduct: Discretionary Fund
  • Binalakshmi Nepram meets Thant Myint-U
  • From goods trucks to passenger buses
  • Imoinu Erat Thouni #1: Gallery
  • A Hymn for Goddess Emoinu
  • All about Gaan-Ngai : Gangmumei Kamei
  • Follow The Code And Go To Vote :: Poem
  • State level Manipuri Pony Show
  • Model Code of Conduct : Republic Day
  • Verdict of the Court says guilty
  • Khoupum Valley & Cave #1 : Gallery
  • Manipur Press Club day : Gallery
  • Prof. Gangmumei Kamei: Personal Tribute
  • Thought on current situation in Manipur
  • My maiden sojourn of enchanting NE #1
  • My New Year :: Poem
  • Transformation of govt into governance #3
  • Fresh proposal for tripartite talk
  • Discussion on Manipur today & tomorrow
  • Painting Competition - Voters Day
  • Requisites for a fresh start
  • Prof Gangmumei Kamei Funeral: Gallery
  • Points On Election Manifesto in Manipur #1
  • Clean Rolls For Fair Poll : Poem
  • Can BJP deny Okram Ibobi a 4th term
  • Every day is a New Year's day
  • Foundation Day of Manipur Press Club
  • PG Course in Plastic Surgery at Shija
  • Election Expenditure monitoring measure
  • Board for issue of Disability Certificate
  • ILP System Demand- Photos from 2012
  • Workshop on Digital Payment Systems
  • KNLF merges with UKLF
  • Fmr. Minister son convicted in murder case
  • Priyanka Rajkumari #2 (Photos) :: eRang
  • Khunung Eeshei/ Ema Emoinu #3 : Radio
  • New Year picnic @Sekmai #2: Gallery
  • Daylight Robbery In Manipur
  • Ibobi lost control over his own creation
  • NABH certifies Shija Hospitals
  • CEO Notice on Poll Model Code of Conduct
  • Promotion of payment through Digital mean
  • Condolence for Prof Gangumei Kamei
  • Highway siege hits fuel prices
  • Parties spar over crisis
  • Recalling the Oja in Prof Kamei
  • When election subsides major issues
  • Pana Polo Exhibition #2: Gallery
  • Assembly Election : Poll Schedule
  • Wild edible plants & indigenous fruits
  • Possible reasons for creation of new district
  • Who says there is no hope for Manipur
  • New Year message for 2017
  • Shillong Lajong FC : Complete Team List
  • Inner Line Permit (ILP) Demand : Timeline
  • New Year picnic @Singda : Gallery
  • Diana Khumanthem- IAS candidate: Gallery
  • UNC prez judicial custody [Jan 2]: Gallery
  • 'Goals for Girls' USA visited Andro Team
  • New Year picnic @Sekmai #1: Gallery
  • Online 2017 Manipuri Calendar :: Tools
  • A brand new year! :: Poem
  • Featured Front Page Photo for 2016 #6
  • New Year 2017 eve -Shopping: Gallery
  • Manipuri Calendar for 2017 : Download
  • Dzuko valley Landscape #3 :: 360 View
  • E-Pao 17th Anniv: Best Wishes for 2017
  • Imphal Book Fair #2 : Gallery
  • Maibi Jagoi @Sangai Festival: Gallery
  • Maphou Dam @ Mapithel Hills : Gallery
  • Miss Manipur 2016 #4 : Gallery
  • Ethoi Oinam - Actress Profile :: eRang
  • Journalists protest [Dec 27] : Gallery
  • 60th CC Meet Final #2 : Gallery
  • Manipur Sangai Festival : Photos from 2012
  • Moirangthem Rajen : Akademi Award
  • Landscape of Manipur #3: Wallpaper
  • 60th CC Meet Semifinal #2 : Gallery
  • 60th CC Meet Semifinal #1 : Gallery
  • Nupi Lal Ningshing Thouram #2 : Gallery
  • Police personnel ambushed : Gallery
  • Honour to police killed : Gallery
  • Landscape of Dzukou Valley #5: Gallery
  • Imas from Nupi Lan: Gallery
  • Diana Khumanthem (IAS candidate)
  • Manipur Phone Directory :: e-pao Tools
  • SPONSORED ADS