Mary Kom has had a busy day. The country’s most decorated women’s boxer is at her second promotional event in just six hours. For most part of the second one, Mary Kom has talked about how eSports can be the sport for the younger generation.
The other dignitaries on the panel are happy that eSports is part of the Asian Games and see it as a future Olympic event where India can win medals.
Mary Kom knows the feeling of winning an Olympic medal. Being the only woman boxer from India to win a bronze medal, she is the greatest of them all in the country.
She is now bidding for another one. No women from India has won two Olympic medals. In a year’s time, Mary Kom may be on the flight to Tokyo and fight for that medal. But the journey has begun on a controversial note.
A week ago, she was given a direct entry to the World Championships even as her younger rival Nikhat Zareen cried foul after Boxing Federation of India cancelled the trial on the day it was scheduled to be held.
Zareen had written a letter to BFI seeking an explanation as to why the trials were cancelled. However, a BFI official later said that she was young and being protected.
Now, Mary Kom has called for a change in the selection policy altogether.
“BFI should decide who should go and hold no trials for the boxers who are performing consistently,” Mary Kom said. “Those boxers should get direct quota to tournaments.”
Citing examples from badminton, Mary Kom said why PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal were given direct entries at the on going World Championships.
“They did not hold any trial. Why in our case there is always a trials?” she asked.
While badminton works on a structure of world rankings which determine who qualifies for the World championship, there is no such system in boxing and the national federations decide the entries according to their own stipulated criterias.
Mary Kom maintained that she had no influence over the selection. However, she did admit that her coach Chhote Lal Yadav had written to BFI seeking an exemption.
But Mary Kom is not letting the controversy affect her preparation.
“Anyone can be tough and I am training for this. I am watching videos and Olympic qualifications start only in January,” said the 36-year-old.
But even before the selection controversy died down, Mary Kom was caught in a conflict of interest issue as she was part of the committee to select the Dronacharya Awardees even though she had herself nominated Yadav for the honour.
She later recused herself when the Dronacharya Awards were discussed but on Wednesday questioned why she cannot nominate her own coach.
“I have recommended so many names in the past. Why it has to be a controversy now? I was on the committee for second time. I had to pull out just because my coach’s name was on the list,” she said.
It was typical Mary Kom. Throwing punch for punch and standing by what she had said. But with all the build up she will have to do the same when she takes the ring in October in Russia.
While the ticket to Olympics is still far, Mary Kom will be India’s biggest hope. And with a year to go for Tokyo Games, the World Championship will be a good assessment of where she stands in the 51 kg weight category.