Harpal Singh Bedi
New Delhi: Putting an end to long drawn controversy and acrimonious debate, six time World champion Mary Kom (51kg) comprehensively beat her challenger Nikhat Zareen 9-1 in the much awaited trial bout to book a berth in the Indian squad for the next year’s Olympic qualifiers in China.
Amid high tension Mary Kom proved her superiority over Nikhat who had repeatedly urged the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to hold the trial before naming the squad for the Olympic qualifier.
Both had been in smashing form in the semi-finals. While Nikhat had outpunched Jyoti, Mary had beaten youngster Ritu Grewal.
After wining the bout Mary Kom refused to shake hands with Nikhat saying that the youngster should first respect others.”Why should I shake hands with her? If she wants others to respect her then she should first respect others. I don’t like people with such nature. Just prove your point inside the ring, not outside,”
“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 said adding “ Now my only focus is the Olympics and I am training hard towards it. I am determined to win a medal at the Olympics for my country.”
On the other hand ,Nikhat said she was hurt by Mary Kom’s behaviour and accused her of using “foul language” inside the ring.
Some officials from Nikhat Zareen’s home state Telangana’s boxing association protested the result and BFI President Ajay Singh had to intervene to control the situation
Apart from Mary Kom , former world junior champion Sakshi Chaudhary (57kg) former World Championships bronze medallist Simranjit Kaur (60kg), two-time World Championships bronze winner Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) and Asian Champion Pooja Rani (75kg) booked their berths in the five-women squad .
In an enticing battle between youth and experience, it was youth which prevailed as Sakshi upset 2016 World Championships silver medallist Sonia Lather to start the final day of the women’s boxing trials. Sakshi had earlier shown her prowess in her win over World Championships quarter finalists Manisha Moun and continued that momentum to dash Lather’s hopes.
“Winning an Olympic medal for my country has been a dream and I am delighted that I am one step closer to it with this win. Would give my best to secure a Tokyo berth,” said Sakshi after her win.
Simranjit, who dazzled in a flawless win over Pavitra yesterday, staved off a stiff challenge from former world champion Sarita Devi to secure her place in 60kg.
In 69kg, Lovlina proved too strong for Lalita and in 75kg, Pooja Rani produced a flurry of punches to blank Nupur. Lovlina had earlier made it to the final on the back of a strong display against Anjali whereas Lalita dropped a point to beat Meena Rani. In the 75kg semi-finals, Pooja Rani easily beat Indraja while Nupur had knocked out experienced Saweeta Boora.
With Indian women’s boxing being on an upward curve, the trials witnessed some high-quality bouts that further showed the depth of Indian boxing.
“BFI’s goal is always to be transparent and for the first time, a trial has been covered with such transparency, where all the media, including Olympic Channel, was covering and updating the trials realtime,” said Ajay Singh, President, Boxing Federation of India (BFI).
“We witnessed great excitement and some enthralling fights on both days of the trials. I wish them all the best. Even the boxers who lost, displayed some amazing fighting spirit and that shows how good our bench strength is and it is only going to go upwards from here,” he added.
The Asia-Oceania Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be held from 3-14 February 2020 in Wuhan, China.
Mary Kom – 51kg, Sakshi Chaudhary – 57kg, Simranjit Chakar – 60kg,Lovlina Borgohain – 69kg
Pooja Rani – 75kg