Mary Kom Takes Down Nikhat Zareen in Olympic Qualifiers’ Trial
But controversy erupted after the match, with MC Mary Kom refusing to shake hands with Nikhat Zareen.
Six-time world champion MC Mary Kom on Saturday confirmed she would represent India at the upcoming Olympic qualifiers in February as she beat compatriot Nikhat Zareen 9-1 in the 51kg category by a split decision verdict, at New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Stadium.
Both the boxers had won their first round matches on Friday by unanimous decisions.
While Zareen had gone past reigning national champion Jyoti Gulia, Mary Kom had eked out a comfortable victory over Ritu Grewal.
A Controversial Result?
Controversy erupted immediately after the result was declared, with officials of the Telangana Boxing Association slamming the decision, calling it ‘biased’.
Telangana Boxing Association's Associate Secretary AP Reddy said they would approach the AIBA (international boxing association) over the matter.
“Nikhat was the clear winner out there. There’s video evidence of the same. Just because Mary is a senior boxer, the verdict was delivered in her favour. We don’t want another fight – we want that the correct decision be delivered based on the videos of today’s match.”AP Reddy, Associate Secretary, Telangana Boxing Association
The bout, however, ended on a bitter note between the pugilists too as Nikhat alleged that the senior pro had used cuss words at her inside the ring. Moreover, the tension between the boxers was evident when Mary Kom walked off without shaking Nikhat’s hands after the result was declared.
Asked over the snub, Nikhat told reporters: “I did not like how she behaved with me because when the decision was announced and I tried to hug her she did not hug me back. Being a junior I expect seniors to respect juniors too. But I don’t mind.”
However, Mary Kom retorted back in a strong manner saying that she did not shake hands because she feel Nikhat didn’t respect her enough anyway. “Why should I shake her hand? What is it to her? If she respects me then I will respect (her). If not, how can I respect? (She’s) talking too much in front of the media. She was telling me ‘she is my idol, she is my icon’. Then? This is how a humane behaviour? I don’t like such things,” Mary Kom said at the post-match press conference.
Mary Kom, who had clinched bronze at the 2012 London Olympics in the flyweight 51kg category, was initially set to represent India at the qualifiers. However, Zareen demanded that a fair trial should take place and Mary Kom should not be nominated to represent the country.
The frustration was understandable given the federation had paved the path for Mary Kom to represent India by not holding a trial between the two boxers for the World Championships as well.
To add to it, the BFI backtracked on its initial plan of handing quota positions to only the ones who would bag gold or silver at the women’s World Championship.
The men’s section was informed that all medal winners at the Worlds would have a go at the trials but women bronze medallists were to be exempted of the privilege.
Thus, after months of contemplation, the Boxing Federation of India’s (BFI) flip flop and a long drawn unwanted mud-slinging affair, both the pugilists had a point to prove in the ring but it was the 36-year-old veteran who used all her experience to thwart the challenge posed by the Zareen.
In the other four categories, Sakshi Chaudhary beat Sonia Lather 9-1 in 57kg, Simranjit Kaur got the better of L Sarita Devi 8-2 in 60kg, Lovlina Borgohain defeated Lalita 10-0 while Asian Games bronze medallist Pooja Rani thrashed Nupur 10-0 in the 75kg clash.
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