New Delhi: “I am not scared to face Nikhat Zareen,” avowed celebrated boxer MC Mary Kom, saying it would just be a “formality” to beat her in the trials for the Olympic qualifiers.
Mary Kom (51kg) found herself embroiled in a controversy with Zareen demanding a trial bout against her before the Indian squad for next year’s Olympic qualifiers is decided.
This was after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) stated that it intends to pick six-time world champion Mary Kom (51kg) for the event in China on the back of her recent bronze medal winning performance at the World Championships in Russia.
“The decision has been taken by BFI. I can’t change the rule. I can just perform. Whatever they decide, I will go with that. I’m not scared to face her, I am fine with the trials,” said Mary Kom on the sidelines of a felicitation program here.
“I have defeated her many times since SAF Games but she keeps challenging me. I mean, what is the point? It is just a formality. BFI also knows who can win a medal at Olympics.”
Mary Kom said “people are jealous of me”.
“It has happened with me in the past also. Perform on the ring, that is the real thing. BFI sends us for exposure trips so comeback with a gold, prove yourself,” she said.
“I am not against her. She might be good in future, let her have the experience and focus on preparation for the highest level. I have been fighting for last 20 years. To challenge is easy but to perform is difficult.”
On Thursday, Olympic champion Abhinav Bindra also backed Zareen’s demand for a trial bout against Kom.
That did not go well with Mary Kom, who is also an Olympic bronze medallist.
“Bindra is an Olympic gold medallist but I too have multiple golds at World Championships. This is not his business, to involve in boxing, to interfere. I don’t talk about shooting, so it is better for him to stay quiet on boxing. He doesn’t know the exact rules of boxing,” Mary Kom said, adding that boxing is not Abhinav Bindra’s “business to interfere.”
She also said that, “He doesn’t know anything about boxing. It is better to be quiet. I don’t think Abhinav would also go for trials before every shooting tournament.”
Earlier, former junior world champion boxer Zareen, who was refused a trial by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) for the World Championships, had written to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, demanding a “fair chance” to make it to the team for the Olympic qualifiers to be held in February next year.
“While I have all the respect for Mary Kom, 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 on Thursday.
Both Bindra and Zareen are associated with the JSW group in different capacities.
For selection of men’s team, BFI had decided that the medallists of the World Championships will be sent directly to the first Olympic qualifiers to be held in China.
In women’s competition, BFI had said in August that only the gold and silver winners at the World Championships in Russia would be selected directly for the Olympic qualifiers in February. Mary Kom (51kg) claimed her eighth world medal at the recently-concluded championships in Russia and the BFI now plans to send the Manipuri boxer for the Olympic qualifiers in China, moving away from that previous decision.
However, the BFI criteria for men made it possible for even the bronze-winners to get direct selection.
“I don’t care about all this. Let BFI take the decision. There should be gender equality, can’t have separate rules for men and women.”
The BFI has also decided to call a selection committee meeting next week to discuss Zareen’s plea. Zareen had lost to Mary Kom at the semifinal of India Open in May this year. -PTI