‘Selected for C’ships Because of Recent Form’: Mary Kom’s Husband
Mary Kom has already claimed two gold medals this year.
Mary Kom has already claimed two gold medals this year. (Photo: PTI)

‘Selected for C’ships Because of Recent Form’: Mary Kom’s Husband

Six-time World Champion MC Mary Kom found herself embroiled in controversy after she got selected for the upcoming women's world boxing championships without taking part in the trials.

Though Mary wasn’t available for comment, her husband K Onler Kom clarified that it was the decision of Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to give Mary an automatic qualification based on her recent performances.

“This is not Mary’s decision. This is the decision of BFI. BFI had said that whoever performs best in the last one year in tournaments like the India Open will automatically be selected. This was the statement from BFI. Mary has been the best in all the tournaments she has participated in the last one year.”
K Onler Kom to The Quint

Mary has already claimed two gold medals this year. First at the India Open and then at a recent tournament in Indonesia. She has been selected in the 51kg weight category, while the 23-year-old Nikhat Zareen didn’t even get an opportunity to qualify.

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Zareen was slated to fight Vanlal Duati in the 51kg category and the winner would have fought Mary in the final. But such wasn’t the case. Instead, the bout was cancelled, and Mary was selected for the global event unopposed.

Zareen in her letter slammed the whole process and how she was informed on the day of the bout that it was called off.

“To my utter surprise and disappointment, I was informed just before the bouts were supposed to start by the Chairman Selection Committee, Mr Rajesh Bhandari that my bout will not happen today & there are some internal discussions happening to ensure I’m protected for future and avoid getting exposed at a young age...”
Nikhat Zareen

Both Rajesh Bhandari, the chairman of selectors, and Onler asserted that the decision to exempt Mary was taken by the BFI top brass. But while Onler talked how this decision was taken a year ago, Bhandari said that the decision was taken a few days back after a request from Mary Kom's coach Chhotelal Yadav.

“This decision was made by the head coach and BFI President Ajai Singh around a year back. It was decided that the selection would be based on ranking and recent performances.”
K Onler Kom to The Quint

Meanwhile, BFI attributed Mary’s direct qualification ‘to her continuous high-level performances in the last few months.’

“ … the Selection Committee of Boxing Federation of India (BFI) after deliberations have concluded that the Manipur pugilist will be exempted from the trial and will get direct entry into the Indian squad for the World Championships to be held in Russia in October 2019,” said BFI in a statement.

“Her (Mary) consistency in a new weight category and gold medal-winning efforts at the Round Robin Cup in Germany, India Open and the President’s Cup in Indonesia, where she was able to outshine all her challengers in the 51kg category, were the consideration point for the Selection Committee to arrive to the decision.”
BFI statement

When asked whether it was unfair that Zareen didn’t even get an opportunity to try her luck against a more experienced Mary in the trials, Onler explained to The Quint that since Mary had got the better of both Zareen and Duati in the recent past, her selection makes perfect sense.

Even Bhandari stressed on the fact that Mary won against Zareen recently.

“She beat Nikhat in the India Open (semifinals) and is consistently better than others in the national camp as well. We have to give priority to India’s medal chances, and it is our unanimous belief that at this point Mary Kom is our strongest bet in this category.” 
Rajesh Bhandari, Chairman of Selectors, BFI

Not only Mary, even Lovlina Borgohain was given a direct qualification in the 69kg category. The Asian bronze-medallist won a gold medal in Russia recently and a silver at the India Open.

At the end of the day no one can argue that Mary Kom is a legend in her own right, with six gold medals and a silver in her eight World Championships appearances but if Micheal Phelps with 28 Golds is made to qualify for the Olympics every time then why can’t our ‘Magnificent Mary’. Asian bronze-medallist Asian bronze-medallist Asian bronze-medallist

(With inputs from PTI)

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