Legendry basketball player Michael Jordan once said, if you accept the expectations of others especially negative ones then you will never change the outcome. Last week, I came across two accounts boxing champion MC Mary Kom and Rajasthan Royals spinner Pravin Tambe who personified the saying.
Both come from different backgrounds and sports. Mary comes from yet-to-be-developed Manipur, while Tambe belongs to economic capital of India Mumbai. Still they have something common, an inspiration for all the aspiring as well as established sportspersons of the country.
The London Olympics medallist Mary was in the city. During my research and interaction with her, I discovered a lot of things about her and how she took rough with a smooth.
Coming from a small and underdeveloped town near Imphal in Manipur, Mary’s life has been full of struggles. But she never gave up and converted these hardships into her strength. A self-made 30-year-old boxer is now mentally stronger and a woman of substance.
When she travelled for various boxing competitions across the country Mary had to burn her pocket on several occasions as her family wasn’t economically sound. Once, she travelled to the US for a competition with just a couple of thousand rupees in her bag without any monetary assistance from the government.
As if financial issues weren’t enough, whenever Mary moved out of her state for any competitions or camps she was mocked and looked down upon. In a nutshell, the life was very tough. Yet Mary defied all odds and never deviated from her goal.
Being said that, Mary always had two things to fall back upon that helped her achieve whatever she has. Primarily her family, who despite tough times always supported her and then came her husband Onler Kom first as a friend and then as husband backed her to the hilt.
In 2001, at the women’s World Amateur Boxing championships in the US, Mary finished runners-up in 45kg category. But many failed to be notice the achievement. However, a year later she punched gold in Turkey that helped her grab all the attention she needed.
She repeated the feat in 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010, a record in itself. She even took a maternity leave for two years before making a successful comeback in 2008.
When Mary bagged bronze at the London Olympics 2012 she was already a mother of two. Recently she gave birth to her third child, Prince and yet Mary refuses to give up her first love i.e. boxing and has set her eyes on Common Wealth Games next year.
Despite having five world cup medals in her kitty, Mary as compared to other world champions in India never got the due publicity. Or even for that matter, tennis star Sania Mirza was way ahead of her even though she to reach Grand Slam semi-finals in singles event. It was her looks and not the game that kept the Hyderabadi on top of the popularity charts.
Impressed with Mary’s zeal, sports legends Geet Sethi and Prakash Padukone founded Olympic Gold Quest supported Mary to realise her Olympics dream.
Now, on the other hand Tambe has been sweating it out at Mumbai’s Shivaji Park a cricket nest. Tambe delivered goods but he was lost amongst the thousands of cricketers at the famous Dadar-based gymkhana. But he never gave up.
The enthusiasm to play at highest level remained with him even when he crossed 40. Like Mary believed in her punches, Tambe was confident of his craft leg-spin. Ironically, when he got his first call from the Mumbai selectors he was already in 40s. Last season, he was part of Mumbai’s Vijay Hazare Trophy squad. Unfortunately, he didn’t make it to the playing XI.
Disappointed Tambe returned to grass-root cricket. He never lost patience, which was aptly rewarded by Rajasthan Royals. A surprise contract offered by Jaipur-based IPL team changed his life in March 2013. From there it has been no looking back.
The 41-year-old justified the RR management’s faith. Today, in Champions League the leg-spinner has 10 wickets in four matches including two man-of-the-match awards.
His victims include Test cricketers Suresh Raina, S Bardrinath and DJ Bravo.
More importantly he shared dressing room with international players, including former captain of Team India Rahul Dravid, a dream of any young cricketer. Tambe looks fitter than most of the youngsters on the field and like a novice he has an urge to learn new things. The hunger to excel is still there and he should make first class debut this season. It won’t surprise me if other T20 leagues give him a call.