Gearing up for her first competitive bout in the new 51kg category, celebrated boxer Mary Kom Saturday said the change was always good and she was feeling confident of doing well in the India Open, beginning here on Monday. Mary Kom, who reached here Saturday, trained at the Sports Authority of India Centre ahead of the five-day tournament to be held at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium. “Yes, of course, there are expectations from me. I have been training well and will give my 100 percent to make my country proud. A change is always good and I feel more confident in 51kg after the last few months of rigorous training,” the 2012 Olympics bronze medallist in 48kg said.
The 48kg weight category is no longer there in the Olympic Games and the diminutive Manipuri will have to fight in the higher 51kg class if she wants to compete in next year’s Tokyo Games. “It feels like a homecoming to come here (Guwahati) and I hope there will be a tremendous support for all the Indian boxers,” said the six-time world champion who had won a 48kg gold in the last edition in 2018.
While Mary Kom leads the Indian team, top international boxers such as Asian Games gold medallists Baturov Bobo and Mirzakhalilov Mirazizbek, two-time World Championships medallist Jasurbek Latipov of Uzbekistan, Youth Olympics champion Brian Agustin Arregui of Argentina, world champion and reigning Asian champion Josie Gabuco of Philippines will also be seen in action. With a few months go for the World Championships, which is also an Olympic qualifier, the India Open will serve as the preparatory tournament for all the participants.
“There are a lot of boxers, including me, who have changed their category,” said Asian Games gold medallist Amit Panghal, who jumped weight category from 49kg to 52kg. “So, this will be a good platform for us to face top-notch boxers and gauge the competition as we gear up for the World Championships,” added the Asian champion who won a gold in 52kg. Foreign teams have started arriving with Thailand and Argentina being the first to touch down in Guwahati on Saturday while others are expected to reach on Sunday.