The Women World Boxing Championships is over. 6-time world Champion Mary Kom returned home with a bronze medal-her 8th medal at the Worlds to become only the first player (both among men and women) to do so. Mary Kom is now targeting a medal at the Tokyo Olympics to finish her celebrated career with the most coveted medal in the sport.
However, prior to the World Championships and in the lead up to the Tokyo Games, an issue that has remained persistent is Nikhat Zareen’s demand for a trial bout against Mary Kom for a berth in 51kg, the Olympic weight division.
Asking for the same, Nikhat Zareen also wrote a letter to the Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) hinted that there would no trial between her and Mary Kom in the 51kg category for participating in the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers in Wuhan from February 3 to 14.
Kiren Rijiju, however, said ministers should not get involved in a matter that is in hands of the BFI.
Commenting on the controversy, Mary Kom also said the Boxing Federation is the right body to decide who they want to send to the Olympics and she will abide by the BFI’s decision.
“I don’t know why she (Nikhat) is bringing in my name into this again and again. I don’t know what is her interest or if she want popularity. I don’t want to speak on that,” Mary Kom told reporters on the sidelines of a felicitation ceremony for the worlds medallists.
“Let BFI decide who they want to send to the Olympics 2020. Let them decide who will come back with the medal. It’s not that I have ever told BFI that I want to skip the trials or I want to be selected for the Olympics. I never requested.
“BFI president Ajay Singh is the right person to decide it. I have no right to say whether it is right or wrong. If BFI wants me to get into the trial, I am fine with it. Why would I be scared from fighting her?
The matter turned further complicated after India’s only individual Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra backed Nikhat Zareen, saying, in sports yesterday never counts.
“While I have all the respect for Marykom, Fact is, an athlete’s life is an offering of proof. Proof that we can be as good as yesterday. Better than yesterday. Better than tomorrows man /woman. In sport, yesterday NEVER counts,” Bindra wrote on his twitter handle,” Bindra tweeted on Friday.
However, Mary Kom said the star India shooter should get involved in boxing as he not well versed about the rules of the sport.
“This is not his business to involve in boxing. He doesn’t know anything about boxing. I don’t talk about shooting. He doesn’t know about the rules and also the point systems,” Mary Kom said.
“It is better to be quiet. I don’t think Abhinav would also go for trials before every shooting tournament,” she added.