Asian Championships bronze medal winner Nikhat Zareen has called out the unfair treatment being meted out to her after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) stated that there will no trial between her and Mary Kom in the 51kg weight category for participating in the Olympic qualifiers from February 3 in Wuhan. This has not gone down well with Nikhat, who lashed out at the BFI.
"I don’t understand what am I training for if you want to favour Mary Kom by sending her directly to the qualifiers? Why am I even boxing when every time Mary Kom will be selected without trials? I want to know where exactly I stand in the Indian women’s boxing in terms of performance and calibre," Nikhat told TOI.
"Look, I don’t want to live with the regret that I wasn’t offered a single chance to compete against her. I wasn’t allowed to prove my worth. So, all I am demanding is one fair chance to fight her out. Win or lose, whatever will happen during the trial, I’ll accept. The BFI can’t overnight change the rule," she added.
Most recently, Nikhat posted an open letter, addressed to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju, on Twitter, saying that all she wants is a fair chance.
Boxing Federation's u-turn
Before the Women's World Championships, the BFI had stated that only gold and silver medalists will be automatically picked for the Olympic qualifiers next year without having to undergo trials. However, the rules were different for men with all medal winners (including bronze) in the Men's World Championships having a chance to play the qualifiers.
However, the rules seem to have changed for Mary Kom, who returned with a bronze, which has irked Nikhat. "If you talk about the fairness of trials. In the men’s section, Shiva Thapa defeated Manish Kaushik in the final of the India Open, yet there was a trial between the two for the Worlds, in which Manish emerged the winner and went to the Worlds. So, what’s the problem in my case?" she asked.
The BFI had earlier not allowed Zareen to compete against Mary Kom in the trials for the World Cup either, with the latter threatening to boycott if she was forced to play in the trials.
A BFI selection committee member told TOI that "the final decision will rest with the president but the matter would be discussed in detail."