Kolkata: A day after boxer Nikhat Zareen wrote to Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju asking for a fair opportunity, Mary Kom said she does not know Nikhat Zareen.
“Who is Nikhat Zareen, I don’t know her. I am really shocked by all this. I have won eight World Championship medals, including six gold. Let the Boxing Federation of India decide whom they want. How can she cry like this? She cannot lobby to get a place in the Indian team. This is not done,” Mary Kom told a TV channel.
Zareen cried foul after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) hinted that there would no trial between her and Mary Kom in the 51kg category for participating in the Tokyo Olympic qualifiers in Wuhan from February 3 to 14.
The boxer said earlier this week that she would speak to Rijiju after trying to contact BFI President Ajay Singh several times. And that is exactly what she did on Thursday as she also took to Twitter to post the letter.
“All I want is a fair chance. If I’m not given the opportunity to compete what am I training for. Sports is about Fair Play & I don’t want to lose faith in my country. Jai Hind,” she wrote.
In the letter, also published with the tweet, she brought the example of how even Michael Phelps had to qualify every single time to participate in the Olympics and also spoke about how she has been inspired by Mary Kom since she was a teenager.
“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 re-qualify every time for the Olympics, the rest of us must do the same,” she wrote.
“I am writing to you as a sportswoman trying to make her mark in sport and bring India glory on the international stage.”
She also found support from Abhinav Bindra, India’s only individual gold medal winner at the Olympics, as he re-tweeted Zareen’s tweet with the message: “While I have all the respect for Mary Kom, Fact is an athlete’s life is an offering of proof. Proof that we can be as good as yesterday. Better than yesterday. Better than tomorrows man /woman. In sport, yesterday NEVER counts (sic).”
However, Mary Kom asked Bindra to stay away. “I know who is behind all this. They are from JSW and I would like to tell Abhinav Bindra that you don’t know anything about boxing and you please stay focused on you(r) shooting. I have been doing boxing for over a decade now and for how long I will continue giving trials. Don’t my records and medals speak for me?”
Rijiju has on his part said that a minister should not be involved in selection of players. “I’ll surely convey to Boxing Federation to take the best decision keeping in mind the best interest of the nation, sports and athletes,” Rijiju tweeted.