BFI to decide what’s best for nation: Rijiju on Zareen-Mary Kom row

Nikhat Zareen, Mary Kom, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Boxing Federation of India
Zareen's reaction came in lieu of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) stating that it intends to pick Mary Kom in the 51kg category event in China on the back of her recent bronze medal at the world championships in Russia. File Photo: PTI

In the ongoing controversy triggered by boxer Nikhat Zareen’s demand for a trial bout against the celebrated MC Mary Kom, Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju said he can only ask the federation to decide what is best for the nation and athletes.

On Thursday (October 18), Zareen wrote a letter to Rijiju, demanding that she should be given a trial bout against the six-time champion ahead of the final Indian team selection for 2020 Tokyo Olympics qualifiers.

All I want is a fair chance. If I’m not given the opporunity to compete what am I training for. Sports is about FairPlay & I don’t want to lose faith in my country. Jai Hind @KirenRijiju @RijijuOffice #AjaySingh @Media_SAI @DGSAI @BFI_official @kishanreddybjp @PMOIndia #TopsAthlete,” Zareen tweeted.

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The reaction came in lieu of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) stating that it intends to pick Mary Kom in the 51kg category event in China on the back of her recent bronze medal at the world championships in Russia.

“I’ll surely convey to Boxing Federation to take the best decision keeping in mind the best interest of the NATION, SPORTS & ATHLETES. Although, Minister should not be involved in the selection of the players by the Sports Federations which are autonomous as per OLYMPIC CHARTER,” Rijiju tweeted in response to Zareen’s letter.

The boxer, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, has maintained that she would go by the decision taken by the BFI, which had earlier stated that only the gold and silver-winners from the world event would be given direct selection for the Olympic qualifiers.

Zareen had been refused a trial bout before the world championship as well after the federation decided to pick Mary Kom on the basis of her gold-winning performances in the India Open and the President’s Cup.

The BFI introduced a points-based selection system last year under which boxers are now being picked on the back of their performances in various graded tournaments and the national camps.

Trial bouts, a norm earlier, are being conducted only in those weight categories in which the coaches and selectors find the competition to be exceptionally close.

Zareen had found the support of India’s only individual Olympic gold-medallist and iconic shooter Abhinav Bindra.

(With inputs from agencies)

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