I’m not scared to face Zareen: Mary Kom opens up about trail bout row

Mary Kom, Nikhat Zareen, Boxing Federation of India, Abhinav Bindra, Olympic qualifiers, 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Mary Kom, a six-time world champion and an Olympic bronze-medallist, said boxing is not Abhinav Bindra's "business to interfere", expressing her displeasure at the Olympic champion's backing of Zareen's demand. Photo: PTI

Six-time champion MC Mary Kom said on Saturday (October 19) that it would just be a “formality” to beat her in trials for the Olympic qualifiers. She said, “I’m not scared to face Nikhat Zareen.”

The 51kg category boxer’s comment came after Zareen demanded a trial bout against her before the Indian squad for next year’s Olympic qualifiers is decided.

This was after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) stated that it intends to pick six-time world champion Mary Kom (51kg) for the event in China on the back of her recent bronze medal-winning performance at the World Championships in Russia.

“The decision has been taken by BFI. I can’t change the rule. I can just perform. Whatever they decide, I will go with that. I’m not scared to face her, I am fine with the trials,” said Mary Kom on the sidelines of a felicitation program here.

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“I have defeated her many times since SAF Games but she keeps challenging me. I mean, what is the point? It is just a formality. BFI also knows who can win a medal at Olympics.”

Mary Kom said “people are jealous of me”.

“It has happened with me in the past also. Perform on the ring, that is the real thing. BFI sends us for exposure trips so comeback with a gold, prove yourself,” she said.

“I am not against her. She might be good in future, let her have the experience and focus on preparation for the highest level. I have been fighting for last 20 years. To challenge is easy but to perform is difficult.”

For selection of men’s team, BFI had decided that the medallists of the World Championships will be sent directly to the first Olympic qualifiers to be held in China.

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

In women’s competition, BFI had said in August that only the gold and silver winners at the World Championships in Russia would be selected directly for the Olympic qualifiers in February.

However, BFI now has decided to call a selection committee meeting next week to discuss Zareen’s plea.

Mary Kom said there should be gender quality in the selection criteria.

“I don’t care about all this. Let BFI take the decision. There should be gender equality, can’t have separate rules for men and women.”

The boxer cum Rajya Sabha MP also said boxing is not Abhinav Bindra’s “business to interfere”, expressing her displeasure at the Olympic champion’s backing of Zareen’s demand.

On Thursday, Bindra backed Zareen with a tweet, “While I have all the respect for Mary Kom, fact is, an athlete’s life is an offering of proof. Proof that we can be as good as yesterday. Better than yesterday. Better than tomorrows man/woman. In sport, yesterday NEVER counts.”

To this Mary Kom said, “Bindra is an Olympic gold medallist but I too have multiple golds at World Championships. This is not his business, to involve in boxing, to interfere. I don’t talk about shooting, so it is better for him to stay quiet on boxing. He doesn’t know the exact rules of boxing.”

She added, “He doesn’t know anything about boxing. It is better to be quiet. I don’t think Abhinav would also go for trials before every shooting tournament.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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