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Boxing Federation should be clear in communication — Santiago Nieva on Nikhat-Mary conflict

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Team India High Performance Director of boxing Santiago Nieva said that the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) should be careful to get rid of situations like the Nikhat-Mary conflict.

He also said that every boxer should know what is expected of them. The remarks come after Nikhat Zareen lodged a complaint with sports minister Kiren Rijiju about the irregularities in the selection and alleged injustice towards her. Santiago told The Bridge:

Though I was not there at the moment (when the conflict started), but what I can say is that it is important for us as national body to be very clear in our communication with our boxers to avoid any misunderstanding. Every boxer has the right to know what is required to qualify for the competition. We need to put it in writing and stick by that. Once we inform everybody, then we need to stick by that and not to make changes. Because this confuses the boxers and creates controversy… And so, we will make sure if some wrong happens, we don’t repeat the same mistake.

Santiago Nieva with Indian boxers
Santiago Nieva with Indian boxers

Mary Kom (51kg) was dragged in a controversy with Nikhat demanding a trial bout against her before the Indian squad for next year’s Olympic qualifiers is decided. The Hyderabad pugilist even shot a letter to the union sports minister Kiren Rijiju after the BFI stated that it intends to pick six-time world champion Mary Kom for the event in China on the back of her recent bronze medal-winning performance at the World Championships in Russia.

 Santiago rated both Mary and Nikhat as world-class boxers
Santiago rated both Mary and Nikhat as world-class boxers

Earlier also, ahead of the world championships, Nikhat decried injustice for cancelling the trial bout in the last moment. Santiago, however, rated both Mary and Nikhat as world-class boxers. He added:

We have two world-class boxers and other good boxers in 51 kg. But Mary Kom won gold in world championship in 48kg last year and before coming to the world championship this year she has won gold in three tournaments and now she is bronze medallist. Nikhat Zareen is also a medallist and has beaten some former world champions as well. Like, in so many other categories, they are close. But the only time they fought in India in India Open, Mary Kom won in a close bout…there are more championships and trials are coming up and definitely they will fight again and the best will go.

Abdul Gani
Abdul Gani
Abdul Gani is a journalist based in Guwahati. Apart from sports reporting, he has covered major developments in Northeast India for a major part of the last decade.
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