Nikhat wants trial, BFI says Mary Kom assured of spot

Nikhat Zareen

New Delhi, After Nikhat Zareen on Tuesday demanded a fair selection trial for the Olympics and asked the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) to telecast it live, the governing body said that they will pick the fourth boxer in each weight category on December 21.

Nikhat had said that she is not willing to let all the talk regarding her showdown with Mary Kom affect her preparations for the all-important trial for the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers on December 27 and 28.

On Tuesday, six-time world champion Mary Kom was supposed to take on Nikhat in the ongoing Big Bout Indian Boxing League, which is a tournament sanctioned by the BFI. But the London Olympics bronze medallist pulled out in the last hour due to a back injury.

“The selection committee, including the coaches, is scheduled to meet on December 21 to decide the fourth participant in all the five weight categories for women’s boxing in which trials are slated to take place for the Olympic qualifiers on December 27 and 28,” the BFI said in a statement.

“The last released ranking of the camp players for the month of September and the tournaments thereafter will be taken into consideration for the same,” it added.

Speaking to IANS, Nikhat said: “Even I got to know yesterday night only that she is not fighting. I was ready. It was a good opportunity for me. Now I will face her in the trials only.

“If she is not willing to fight, I can’t force her. It’s her choice. My bad that now she is not playing. Now I have to focus on the trials only,” she said.

Later at a press conference here, the 23-year-old Telangana boxer added: “I wanted to play the league just because everyone would have seen the bout on TV and know me. Now I have to prepare for the trails, but I want the trials to be telecast live on TV and not behind close doors so that people can know what happened in the bout.”

“BFI wanted me to play the league so I didn’t play the nationals and that’s why I am right now the fourth choice boxer for the trails in 51kg. I was told by the BFI to play the league,” said Nikhat.

“I got a mail from BFI stating that mine and Mary Kom’s trial will happen. Then they said that Nikhat will have to fight and win against Mary Kom in the league to get the fourth spot in the trials.

“This of course affects my preparations. I just want the authorities to show me a clear path. If they say that your trails will be on that day, then I can focus on that. But in between you say that you have to perform well in IBL, then only we will think about whether to give you the fourth spot in the trails which is not fair,” she said.

At the trial scheduled for December 27 and 28 here, each weight category will have four contenders. Three places are already secured in the 51kg women’s division after Jyoti Gulia and Ritu Grewal won the gold and silver in the women’s nationals in Kannur while Mary Kom is assured of a spot after she won the bronze at the women’s World Championships in Ulan-Ude, Russia, in October.

The fight is between Nikhat and Pinki Rani for the fourth spot now.