Six-time world champion M C Mary Kom (51kg category) defeated Nikhat Zareen in an intense trial bout here on Saturday to make the Indian team for next year’s Olympic qualifiers in China. In a bout which had very few clear punches, Mary Kom prevailed 9-1 to make the squad, but tension was palpable inside the boxing hall owing to the bitter row triggered by Zareen’s public demand for a trial.
Words were exchanged between the boxers during the bout and outside the ring, a few representatives from Zareen’s home state Telangana’s boxing association cried foul once the result was declared.
“I was a bit angry. There is no doubt. But it’s all done now. I have moved on. All I say is that talk once you perform not before that. Everyone can see what you do in the ring,” Mary Kom told PTI after the bout.
Mary Kom did not respond to Zareen’s attempt at hugging her after the bout.
“They call it clinching in our sport,” was her sharp retort on being asked about it.
“I am hurt by how she behaved. She used some foul language inside the ring too, but it’s ok,” said Zareen.
Boxing Federation of India President Ajay Singh had to step in to control the situation after AP Reddy, claiming to represent the Telangana Boxing Association vociferously protested the decision.
“How will boxing grow amid this kind of politics,” Reddy later told reporters after being asked to leave the ringside by Singh and pacified by a disappointed Zareen herself.
Bitterness dominated the buildup to the bout after it was insinuated that the onus was on Mary Kom to agree for the trial even though it was a call that the federation had to take.
Mary Kom was visibly pumped up at the end of the bout in which she impressed with her composure.
In other results, two-time world silver-medallist Sonia Lather (57kg) was upstaged by a swift-moving Sakshi Chaudhary. Lather, also an Asian medallist, couldn’t cope with Chaudhury’s relentless attack.
In the 60kg category, former world champion L Sarita Devi lost to national champion Simranjit Kaur. It was once again a battle of pace as Kaur outwitted Sarita with her precise hitting and quick reflexes.
Also making the squad was two-time world medallist Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) after beating Lalita.