Mary beats Nikhat in intense bout, reaches Olympic qualifiers

New Delhi: Mary Kom beat Nikhat Zareen in the 51kg final of the women’s trials for the Indian team that will travel to China in February for the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifiers. In keeping with the build up to the bout which involved both camps exchanging words in public over several months, it was followed by dramatic scenes at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium complex in New Delhi with officials of the Telangana Boxing Council stating that they will lodge an official protest with the International Boxing Association (AIBA).

The match looked a far closer affair than the 9-1 result suggested. Both pugilists locked on each other a number of times and were for the most part unable to land clear punches. Supporters from both sides were vehemently cheering their boxers and when the result was announced, Telangana officials present at the venue angrily protested it.

On Friday, Mary Kom had defeated her opponent Ritu Grewal in a unanimous decision while Zareen too had outclassed current national champion Jyoti Gulia, in a unanimous decision to set-up a high-octane clash for Saturday.

Saturday’s match was a culmination of months of build-up which started with Nikhat not being given a chance to stake a claim in the Indian contingent that went to the Women’s Boxing World championships earlier in the year.

Nikhat had after the Women’s Boxing World Championships in November demanded a trial to decide who between her and Mary Kom will go to China after it looked like the latter may travel for the Asia/Oceania Olympic qualifiers in February. This after the Boxing Federation of India’s remained undecided over the selection policy. She had also demanded that the trials be telecast live which the BFI rejected stating that there is no precedence for it.

While Mary always stated that she would abide by whatever selection policy the BFI has, she had indicated an aversion to a trial, taking the example of other sports in which athletes don’t have to give trials. “Even in other games like badminton, who gives trial? Have you seen Saina Nehwal and P.V. Sindhu appearing for trials? But in our case it is different,” she had said in August.

In other results, Sakshi Chaudhary beat two-time World Championship silver medallist Sonia Lather in the 57kg category while veteran former world champion Sarita Devi was beaten by national champion Simranjit Kaur in the 60kg category. Two-time world champion Lovlina Borgohain beat Lalita in 69kg and Pooja Rani beat Nupur in the 75kg category.

 

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