M C Mary Kom defeated Nikhat Zareen on Saturday in New Delhi. (Express Photo by Tashi Tobgyal)
MC Mary Kom, a six-time world champion defeated Nikhat Zareen in the 51kg category trial bout on Saturday to qualify for next year’s Olympic qualifiers in China.
Mary Kom won the bout 9-1 to make it to the squad. However, the tension inside the arena was palpable owing to the bitter row triggered by Zareen’s public demand for a trial.
“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.
After the match, Zareen attempted to hug her but Mary Kom did not respond. “They call it clinching in our sport,” she said on being asked about it.
Mary Kom defeated Nikhat Zareen to book her spot in the Olympic qualifiers.
She doesn't shake Zareen's hand after the fight ??pic.twitter.com/BiVAw9PCSd
— MMA India (@MMAIndiaShow) December 28, 2019
“I don’t like this, you drag my name into an unnecessary controversy and then you try to posture. Yes, I didn’t hug her, what’s the big deal? I did not start this, I never said I will not fight you in a trial then why did you drag my name,” Mary Kom told PTI referring to Zareen’s open letter to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju specifically demanding a trial bout against the Manipuri legend.
“I am also a human being, I also get irritated. Can’t I get angry when my credentials are questioned like this? And this wasn’t the first time. It has happened so many times with me despite the fact that no other Indian boxer has achieved what I have achieved,” she added referring to past selection controversies.
“Perform and take my spot, who is stopping you? But don’t talk big without that. If you do that, I will hit back. Why was this made a media trial about me?” she fumed.
Zareen on the other hand expressed disappointment and said, “I am hurt by how she behaved. She used some foul language inside the ring too, but it’s ok.”
Meanwhile, 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.
In other results, two-time world silver-medallist Sonia Lather (57kg) was beaten by Sakshi Chaudhary.