Rival protests after boxing body scraps trials for Mary Kom’s weight class
Nikhat Zareen and Vanlal Duati were told their bout has been postponed to Wednesday, but were not given any reason. On Wednesday though they were told no trials will be held in the 51kg category, catching them by surprise.Updated: Aug 07, 2019 21:33 IST
MC Mary Kom has been selected for the World Championships without taking part in the trials. The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) made a late exemption for the London Olympics bronze medallist after the draw for the trials was out and two other competitors in the 51kg category—Nikhat Zareen and Vanlal Duati—were ready to face off in the first bout on Tuesday. The winner was drawn to meet Mary Kom, 36, in the final round.
Nikhat Zareen and Vanlal Duati were told their bout has been postponed to Wednesday, but were not given any reason. On Wednesday though they were told no trials will be held in the 51kg category, catching them by surprise.
The BFI received a request from Mary Kom on Saturday seeking exemption from trials on the basis of her recent performances. After shifting to the Olympic weight category (51kg), Mary has won two gold—India Open and President’s Cup.
Nikhat Zareen, who has showed good form this year, winning four medals in international competitions including bronze at the Asian Championships, has written to BFI president Ajay Singh and the sports ministry, expressing “helplessness” and seeking a “fair trial”.
“If there is a rule for all of us, it needs to be consistent irrespective of the stature of a particular boxer and unfair practices should not be used for boxers trying to avoid participating in the trials. I am looking forward to your immediate intervention and restoring the faith of every boxer in India. I am just requesting a fair trial for me and my fellow boxers who aspire to bring laurels for the country,” the Hyderabad boxer wrote to Singh on Tuesday.
On Wednesday, Nikhat Zareen shot off another letter to the selection committee chairman, Rajesh Bhandari, after seeing that the 51kg division was missing from the day’s schedule.
“I am surprised to see my name and weight category not featuring in the schedule list circulated. It was supposed to be the first bout. I request an urgent explanation as to what is happening and what is the final decision in this regard,” she said.
BFI had announced in April that trials will be held in all categories for women and for men, the Asian Championships winner would get a direct berth. The women’s worlds will be held in Ulan-Ude, Russia from October 3-13.
The direct berth rule was made applicable only for men as Mary Kom, a six-time world champion, had skipped the Asian meet and was in the process of moving up from her favourite, non-Olympic 48kg division to 51kg. Amit Panghal won gold at the Asian Championships held in April and has been exempted from trials for the men’s world championships, to be held in Yekaterinburg, Russia, from Sept 7-15.
Mary Kom’s first tournament after shifting weight was the India Open in May, where she won gold. She defeated Nikhat Zareen in a close semi-final and Vanlal Duati in the final. Mary Kom won gold in the President’s Cup in Indonesia on July 28.
On August 3, her coach Chotelal Yadav wrote to BFI on her behalf seeking an exemption from the trials. “Mary has been consistently performing in international meets. She has also beaten Nikhat Zareen at the India Open. BFI has exempted Amit from the trials based on his performance, so why not Mary?” Chotelal told HT on Wednesday.
Bhandari said BFI had weighed the merits of her case before taking a decision.
“It cannot be ignored. We had to go through her request considering her status, recent performance. When we saw the merits of her case, we decided to give her this benefit,” he said.