Indian boxing great MC Mary Kom was caught in the eye of storm on Tuesday when she was selected in the 51kg category for the upcoming women’s World Boxing Championships without a trial.

The 36-year-old Mary Kom, who has already claimed two gold medals this year [India Open and a recent tournament in Indonesia], was picked by the Boxing Federation of India on the basis of her recent performances.

However, this was done without giving other Indian boxers in her category a chance to qualify. Former junior world champion Nikhat Zareen was among the ones to call this out .

READ: Nikhat Zareen was ‘protected’ from Mary Kom but who’ll protect Indian boxing from the federation?

The BFI will be holding trials for other categories but six-time world champion Mary Kom and Lovlina Borgohain (69kg) have got a direct entry in the squad.

The 23-year-old Zareen, in a letter to the Boxing Federation of India, alleged that she was “stopped from competing” in a scheduled trial bout on Tuesday against Vanlal Duati by chairman of selectors Rajesh Bhandari.

Bhandari said the “carefully thought out decision” to pick Mary Kom has been taken keeping India’s medal prospects in mind. Mary Kom is a veteran in the event, having claimed six gold medals and a silver in her eight appearances.

“We have to give priority to India’s medal chances and it is our unanimous belief that at this point Mary Kom is our strongest bet in this category,” he told PTI.

We felt that Mary Kom had done enough to merit selection without trials. The BFI has been consulted on this matter.

“She beat Nikhat in the India Open [semi-finals] and is consistently better than others in the national camp as well. Nikhat is also a brilliant boxer and she will have her chances in the time to come. But right now, it’s a call based purely on performance and experience,” he was quoted as saying.

This decision was slammed by sports followers on Twitter, who said the direct selection was unfair on Zareen. Some pointed out that a fair national trial is mandatory in almost all sports, even for the Olympics while others suggested that it was Mary Kom herself who asked for this preferential treatment. Either way, the decision reflects badly upon the boxing federation and how the sport works in the country.

With PTI Inputs