Yet, the pint-sized 46kg boxer, who returned to the capital on Monday, bagged the top honour with a comprehensive 7-1 verdict over Romania ’s Steluta Duta.
When MC Mary Kom started boxing, she had to convince her father that it was okay for a woman to try and storm what was considered a male bastion. Eight years and three World championship gold medals later, Mary Kom, now a mother, had to convince herself that she still had some fight left in her.
“Women boxers in India should be treated with more respect. They have been bringing laurels for the country regularly,” said the world’s most successful woman pugilist.
“I was extremely pained when I was denied the Khel Ratna Award,” she said.
“I had three world titles under my belt but the selection panel did not find me good enough to get the award.
“I was very upset because the panel had some eminent sportspersons, including the legendary Milkha Singh. At least they should have realised my contribution. It happened to me twice,” the boxer said with regret.
Mary Kom said despite being ignored time and again, she was not going to call it quits so easily.
Awards or no awards she is the real "Million Dollar Baby".