This bout is taking place outside the boxing ring. And all 23-year-old Nikhat Zareen is demanding is that she be given a fair chance to compete for an entry to the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers, to be held in Wuhan in February 2020. Her ire is directed at the Boxing Federation of India’s decision to exempt gold and silver medallists from the World Cup from Olympic trials. Her allegation is that this has been done to “accommodate” her senior Mary Kom as the Indian candidate without a trial.
Both Mary Kom and Nikhat Zareen compete in the same 51 kg category and the direct entry to the former puts the Hyderabad boxer in a disadvantageous position.
Zareen, who has been world junior boxing champion, has now therefore written to Sports minister Kiren Rijiju, calling out this decision by the BFI.
“The very basis of sport is the concept of fair play and the need to keep proving oneself each and every time. Even Olympic Gold medallists have to fight again to qualify to represent the country. I have been inspired by Mary Kom since I was a teenager. The best way I can do justice to this inspiration was to strive to be as great a boxer as her. And Mary Kom is too big a legend in sport to need to hide from competition and not actually defend her Olympic qualification. After all, if 23-time gold medallist Michael Phelps had to requalify every time for the Olympics, the rest of us must do the same,” she wrote in her letter. (published below)
“Sir, I look for no favours. Just fair play. And whether Mary Kom or I or any other boxer qualifies after the trial, we can at least sleep at night knowing that every one of the candidates got the best possible opportunity to make India proud at the Olympics,” Zareen wrote in the letter to Rijiju that she posted on Twitter.
Zareen hoped that the minister, having been a sportsperson himself will not let her down. She has even asked for one fair trial against Mary Kom so that she can prove her worth. Shooter Abhinav Bindra has backed Zareen’s demand.