M.C. Mary Kom, India’s only qualifier in women’s boxing at the London Olympics, expressed delight and surprise at her inclusion in the 2012 list of world’s most marketable athletes, released by England’s sports business magazine, SportPro. “I am happy to be in that list. It puts responsibility on me to do well at the Olympics, because I am doing it for youngsters.
“They should realise that if Mary Kom can win titles, receive national awards and make a career of boxing, they can too,” she said.
Mary Kom’s earlier international recognition had come four years ago, when boxing’s world body, AIBA, named the 29-year-old Indian world champion, then 25, as one of three women’s boxing ambassadors. “I felt proud then, because AIBA chose me among three women boxers after representing the nation in world events and performing,” explained the Manipuri fighter, nicknamed ‘Magnificent Mary’.
Two others chosen in 2008 were USA’s Tiffany Hearn and Sweden’s Anna Laurell. Brazilian football phenomenon Neymar tops the SportsPro list, followed by Rory Mcllroy, Lionel Messi, Usain Bolt and Cristiano Ronaldo in the top five.
M.S. Dhoni is the highest rated Indian at 16th, five-time world 48kg women’s champion and Olympic 51kg debutant, Mary Kom, is ranked number 38th.
Taiwan golfer Yani Tseng at 10th is the highest ranked female athlete among the eight shortlisted. England’s Charles Atkinson, Mary Kom’s personal coach for Olympics preparations, pointed out that the Indian world champ is well-known in world boxing circles.
“The way she fights and carries herself in the ring, boxing followers — especially in England from where I come from, view her as an achiever. ”
Sportspro magazine explains, “If the introduction of women’s boxing is likely to be one of the major talking points of Olympic Games this summer, then it is odds-on that a 29-year-old Indian mother-of-two will be the front and centre of the story. “She has certainly been waiting for her Olympic moment for quite some time, and a gold medal has the potential to turn her into an Indian sporting legend and a role model for young women.”
Athletes from the across the world were rated on the basis of marketing potential over the next three years by the England-based publication specialising on business news in world sport. Factors taken into account are home market, age, charisma, crossover appeal and value for money.”