M.C. Mary Kom, the six-time world champion and 2012 Olympic bronze-medallist, bowed out of Tokyo Olympics gracefully though in disbelief after losing to Colombia's Ingrit Valencia in a closely-contested pre-quarter final bout on Thursday.
The 38-year-old forced her hand up as soon as the referee raised Ingrit's and in a show of sportsmanship, hugged her opponent after what may be her last bout at the quadrennial Games.
Though she managed to keep her emotions in check in the ring as she congratulated her opponent, the reality of the end of an Olympic career sank in only after she had reached the doping centre.
"When I reached the doping centre, I could not believe that I have lost," Mary Kom told India Today channel.
The coach consoled her saying that she fought well and should have been the winner of the close bout which she had lost 2-3.
"My coach explained to me that you have won. And then I saw social media (where people praised her and said she should have won the bout), and I was in shock and was upset. In my fight, such [close] decisions do take place. What do I say? I can't protest," she added.
The boxing competition in Tokyo is being run by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Boxing Task Force after the International Boxing Association (AIBA) was suspended in 2019 for alleged mismanagement and financial wrongdoing.
Mary Kom, 38, who had beaten the Colombian opponent twice before, including in the quarterfinal of the World Championships in 2019, lost the first round as Ingrit was quick to take advantage.
The 32-year-old Colombian, who had won the bronze at the 2016 Rio Olympics, took 10 points each from four of the five judges in the first round, unlike the 2012 Olympic bronze medallist Indian, who could earn 10 from only one judge.
That first round clearly weighed heavily against Mary Kom as the remaining two rounds were won by her by the thinnest of margins.
Mary Kom managed 10 points each from three judges in the second and third rounds while two judges gave 10 to Ingrit in those rounds.
But due to Ingrit's big advantage in the first round, the result expectedly went against the Indian boxer.
The loss brought to an end to a glittering career for the boxer who has earned multiple adjectives against her name, 'Magnificent Mary' being the most popular among them.
She is also known as 'India's Ageless Wonder'.
She has had a biographical movie made on her life; she has won a bag full of medals and accolades -- eight world championship medals, an Olympic bronze medal, multiple national titles, AIBA Legends award, Padma Vibhushan, Padma Bhushan and Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna.
Mary Kom has always been a boxer par excellence, a fighter who has battled many adversaries -- both in the ring and outside -- to triumph.
On Thursday, her journey ended as she had announced that she would retire after the Tokyo Olympics. She wanted it to end on a glorious note, with another Olympic medal around her neck. But that was not to be.