Nikhat Zareen, Asian Championships bronze medallist who competes in the 51kg category same as Mary Kom, has written to the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) demanding an explanation for their decision of not allowing her a trial for entry into the Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers. The 23-year-old did not get a chance to fight a game against six-time world champion Mary Kom for the Qualifiers.

In a letter written to the Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, Zareen questioned the process the BFI had taken. It was earlier decided that only the gold and silver medallists at the recently concluded Women’s World Boxing Championships would be allowed to advance to the Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers — without a trial. This is scheduled to be held in Wuhan from 3-14 February 2020. Zareen called it unfair move. But then Kom only earned a bronze at the world championships and rumoured to be getting the privilege of a direct entry into the Olympics Qualifiers. So Zareen now claims the rules are biased and wishes to enter the ring to fight a fair trial against Kom.

Key Takeaways:

  • Star boxer Mary Kom to be getting the privilege of a direct entry into the Olympics Qualifiers. Nikhat Zareen believes a fair trial is necessary
  • “I ask for no favours but fair play,” writes Nikhat Zareen in letter to sports minister demanding trial against Mary Kom
  • Earlier, BFI cancelled trials in Mary Kom’s category for the World Boxing Championships which led to a bigger controversy.
  • The Tokyo Olympics Qualifiers is scheduled to be held in Wuhan from 3-14 February 2020. Nikhat Zareen called this out in a letter to the BFI. She called the selection process biased.

Zareen writes, “I have been inspired by Mary Kom since I was a teenager. The best way I can do justice to that inspiration is to strive to be as great a boxer as her.”

“Mary Kom is too big a legend to hide from the competition and not actually defend her Olympic qualification.”

Zareen also gave the example of US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps and wrote, “After all, if the 23 times gold medallist Michael Phelps had to requalify every time for the Olympics, the rest of us must do the same.”

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Zareen said whoever qualifies for the Tokyo Olympics, a proper trial is fair so that they can “sleep at night knowing that every one of the candidates got the best possible opportunity to make India proud at the Olympics.”

This controversy is the aftermath of the India Open in May and Women’s World Boxing Championships where too Nikhat was to fight Kom (in 51kg category) during the trials but denied trials at the last moment. The cold war between the two pugilists was not yet over and now another similar situation has stirred up.

Kom stayed content with her stance, said she would follow the BFI guidelines on selection trials. She also claimed that she will compete if asked by the federation. Meanwhile, to intervene in selection matters of any national federation are beyond the sports ministry’s job description. But if he is requested by the parent international body asking a violation of the Olympic Charter, he has the rights to further look into the matter.

Zareen concluded the letter expressing her belief in Rijiju, a former sportsman saying he “will not let me down” and asked him to “protect the honour of sports.”

Feature Image Credit:  BFI_official

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