Bengaluru, December 20: Driven by the legacy of three-time world heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali, Mary Kom has now set her sights on the Commonwealth Games in April and even on the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 where she hopes to improve on the bronze medal she won in London.
"I am really inspired by Muhammad Ali, who was a legend across the world. He is my mentor and my only inspiration (is) his achievements," Mary Kom told AFP.
"And he was such a great boxer -- that is why I am still able to do this."
The Asian title in November was her first gold at international level since winning the Asian Games in 2014.
"I am still fit. Some people talk about the X-factor and say 'she cannot perform'. That is always the mindset. So I say there is no X-factor ... I have more experience and I am getting better and better," said Kom.
In her bid for gold, she has dropped back down to the 48kg category she fought in when she first grabbed headlines at the 2001 world championships.
"The Games will soon be here," she said referring to the Commonwealth event in Australia's Gold Coast. "I am trying my best to improve day-by-day."
Like her hero Ali, Mary Kom had her own struggles growing up, with her rise from an impoverished family in the remote northeastern state of Manipur being made into a 2014 Bollywood movie starring Priyanka Chopra.
"In the beginning it was difficult to get my own gloves, it was difficult to even buy one glove and my family did not support me in the beginning," Kom said.
"They were worried that if I got injured, who will take the responsibility?
"Everything moves with money only. If we want something to eat or to buy clothes or do anything, without money you can't do anything," she said.