An irate Mary Kom did not mince words following her win against Nikhat Zareen which sealed her passage to the Olympic trials. After the match, there was no customary handshake between the two pugilists and the fact that there is no love lost – at least from Mary’s end – when the six-time World champion shrugged off a hug from her younger rival.
“I don’t like this, you drag my name into an unnecessary controversy and then you try to posture. Yes, I didn’t hug her, what’s the big deal? I did not start this, I never said I will not fight you in a trial then why did you drag my name,” Mary fumed after the fight.
The entire episode dates back to October, when Zareen drafted a letter to Sports Minister Kiran Rijiju demanding a trial against the veteran before India’s squad for next year’s Olympic Qualifiers was decided. Mary had claimed her eighth world medal at the World Championships in Russia and was selected for the event ahead of Zareen, who was refused a trial by the Boxing Federation of India (BFI). Mary’s consistent performances were taken into consideration by BFI president Ajay Singh while making the choice.
“I am also a human being, I also get irritated. Can’t I get angry when my credentials are questioned like this? And this wasn’t the first time. It has happened so many times with me despite the fact that no other Indian boxer has achieved what I have achieved,” Mary added.
“Perform and take my spot, who is stopping you? But don’t talk big without that. If you do that, I will hit back. Why was this made a media trial about me?”
Zareen even went on record saying Mary is too big a legend to hide from competition which added fuel to fire, while the six-time world champion maintained she would follow the guidelines or whatever the BFI would decide.
“Did I make that announcement? Whose fault was it, was it mine? I didn’t even know about it, I was told and it surprised me. Because mentally, I was prepared for a trial at that time. Once the trial was announced, did I say I won’t come? Then why was my name taken time and again?” she asked.
“I was told by the two High Performance Directors Santiago Nieva and Raffaele Bergamasco that the selection would be done on the basis of our performances. I asked for an exemption based on that. You ask them, I didn’t make that policy.”
However, once she let it out, a composed Mary stated that she aims to switch her focus towards the Tokyo Games, which many expect to be her last Olympics.
“I will give my best wherever I compete. If I get a medal, great. Everyone says that Tokyo Olympics is my last. But I will see how my body is. In any case, I will always be attached to boxing, it is my life,” Mary said.