At The Olympic Museum for a special weekend of events centred on International Women’s Day, Olympian and five-time World Boxing Champion Mary Kom took the time to answer some of the questions from IOC. As a bronze medalist at the Olympic Games London 2012 and the third Indian woman to win an individual medal at the Games, Kom has made a name for herself both inside and outside the ring as a fantastic athlete and an inspiration to countless girls and women in her country.

How and when did you get involved in boxing?
Since childhood, I have always had an interest in sports, where I did well at school, and was also particularly interested in in martial arts. Seeing my performances, my teacher suggested I get into sports. I began with athletics but was then introduced to women’s boxing. Inspired by the success of Dingko Singh at the 1998 Asian Games, I decided to take up the sport in 2000.

What are people’s reactions when you say you are a boxer?
It was a different story when I first started boxing. People were kind of shocked to learn I was boxing, as, those days, it was considered only a man’s game. I still remember how my own community would look at me. I was considered such an odd person. Even my own father was against this decision of mine. It took me days to convince him. But it is different now…

What advice would you give to girls or women interested in starting boxing?
Girls, if you know you are gifted in boxing or if you really like it, just grab it with both hands and go for it. Boxing is not just a game, but has now become a good career that you could have. Besides contributing to being fit and healthy, it can earn you wealth, happiness, and recognition, and create new opportunities. But it does involve hard work, determination and faith. It is challenging as the competition is really tough these days, but not different for any other field.

Women’s boxing made its debut at the Olympic Games London 2012. What are your hopes for the future of women’s boxing, as well as your personal objectives?
Women’s boxing is growing at a good pace. It has attracted many people and is being looked up to and appreciated. I would say it has got a very good future. It’s just the beginning, and it’s already shown some outstanding results.
As for myself, I am mentally prepared for Rio 2016. After a bronze at London, I am determined to change the colour of my medal. I will be at my best, and the rest is in the hands of God.

When you retire from the ring, would you like to continue working in the field of sport?
Yes. I love boxing because it has given me almost everything. It changed me and my life. I know I’m going to miss it once I retire, so I want to commit myself fully to training and producing the next generation of champions and inspirational role models. This mission is already underway. I have my own boxing academy in Imphal, which I started in 2006. Once I retire, I am going to devote myself full time to training my students, sharing with them my skills and experiences in boxing.