Boxers in ugly catfight

Indian boxers Mary Kom and Nikhat Zareen exhibited opposite emotions in the aftermath of their much-awaited bout on Saturday in New Delhi - a selection trial to determine a place in February's Olympic qualifiers in China.

Mary, a legend of the sport with six World Championships to her name, won the 51kg bout 9-1 in a split decision, but was clearly charged up. The 36-year-old yanked her hand away after Nikhat initiated a hug.

She later lashed out at the 23-year-old during an interaction with the media at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium complex.

Nikhat, whose only demand had been that she be given a fair trial, was composed, applauding her opponent while the referee lifted Mary's hand.

She later tried to pacify her supporters, including her father, who were incensed by the result.

Mary clearly had taken everything that Nikhat had done over the past few months personally. The Manipuri boxer looked coldly past her opponent, shouldering her on the way out.

Even more ugliness was to follow as she was accused of using foul language in the ring by several spectators.

"I did not like how she behaved with me," said Nikhat.

"When the decision was announced, I tried to hug her, but she did not hug me back. Being a junior I expect from seniors that they respect us too. I felt hurt, but that's okay.

"In the ring she used some bad words at me. I don't want to react on that right now."

Nikhat's father Jameel Ahmed revealed that his daughter was in tears due to the language Mary used during the bout.

"Winning-losing is part of an athlete's life. But Nikhat was in tears because of the language used," he said.

"Boxers shake hands or hug after the verdict, no matter who wins or loses. But Mary instead said something foul to her.

"You have served the country for so long. But what message are you sending out when you use such words in the ring?"

Mary said she did not feel like reciprocating Nikhat's offer of a hug because the younger pugilist does not respect her.

"Why should I shake hands with her?" asked Mary. "If she wants others to respect her, then she should first respect others.

"I don't like people with such nature. I don't like this. You drag my name into an unnecessary controversy and then you try to posture."

She was obviously referring to a letter that Nikhat wrote in October to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju in which she had demanded a fair selection trial for the Olympic qualifiers after one had been called and then cancelled before the World Championships in favour of sending Kom directly.

Nikhat's fight for a fair trial started even before October's women's World Championships in Russia.

She had travelled from Hyderabad to New Delhi for the trials, only to learn that it had been called off and Mary had been selected in the 51kg category.

The Boxing Federation of India (BFI) then decided that those who win gold and silver at World Championships would get an automatic place in the Indian contingent for the Olympic qualifiers in China.

On Saturday, Mary said that high performance directors Santiago Nieva and Raffaele Bergamasco had said that the selection would be done on the basis of performances in international competitions and she had asked for an exemption on that basis.

Nikhat, however, felt that Mary should be ready to take part in trials because that will give younger boxers a chance to get a measure of themselves.

"She is a legend, so she shouldn't have anything to fear," said Nikhat.

"We are all juniors in front of her. She should always be ready for the trials and be a good example for the youth.

"Now she has defeated me and gone for the Olympic qualifier, everyone is happy. That would not have been the case if she had gone directly without giving anyone else a chance to even assess themselves against her.

"There should be a trial before every competition. I lost the bout but I won hearts on that day and I am happy."

The bout between Mary and Nikhat was held on Saturday because Mary won only a bronze at the World Championships.

Nikhat was concerned that it would not be fair as BFI president Ajay Singh had indicated that Mary may be allowed to go for the qualifiers in China anyway. The Telengana boxer was left feeling the same on Saturday after nine out of 10 judges gave Mary the bout.

ESPN reported that the contest was mediocre and poorly fought. It said: "While the 9-1 split decision seems to give the impression that judges overwhelmingly scored the bout in Kom's favour, the fact was that both sides had a very poor outing with clinches and wrestling outnumbering the few clean punches... It was generally perceived as a hard bout to score."

The announcement of the winner was greeted with anger by Nikhat's supporters who threw chairs at the judges and BFI officials. Nikhat had to calm them.

"I never imagined all this will happen," Nikhat said later.

"I never expected that she (Mary) will get so angry at me for going on Twitter and writing a letter to the sports minister.

"If she is taking all that personally, that's her choice. I was fighting for a fair trial. I was fighting against the system, not Mary Kom or the federation."

Indo-Asian News Service

"Why should I shake hands with her? If she wants others to respect her, then she should first respect others." - Boxer Mary Kom

"When the decision was announced, I tried to hug her, but she did not hug me back. Being a junior I expect from seniors that they respect us too." - Boxer Nikhat Zareen


அதற்குள்ளாகவா? இந்தச் செய்திகளையும் படிக்கலாமே!

இந்தச் செய்திகளையும் படிக்கலாமே!