Hyderabad: The controversies surrounding Telangana boxer Nikhat Zareen and six-time World Champion Mary Kom bout seem to be an endless saga.
The two were in the news after the Telangana boxer alleging that Indian Boxing Federation (IBF) was favouring Mary Kom and in the process sending the latter to Olympic qualifiers without any trials. The 23-year-old Nikhat challenged the decision. Bowing to the clamour, the officials were forced to announce the trials.
Ahead of their big fight on December 29 and 30, the two were set to clash in the Indian Boxing Federation’s Big Bout Indian Boxing League, which started on Monday. Mary Kom, representing Punjab Panthers, was to face Nikhat who was drafted into Odisha Warriors. However, in an unexpected turn of events, the league organisers and Odisha team traded Nikhat with North East Rhinos without the knowledge of the Nizamabad-born pugilist.
A clueless Nikhat landed in New Delhi for the fight against Mary Kom and she was informed of the change only on late Sunday. “No one informed me nor took my permission. I was clueless. I came to know only late on Sunday evening that I would be competing for North East team. I don’t know what exactly happened. I have been made their captain,” she had reportedly said.
Nikhat’a father Jameel Ahmad said that this favourtism has been happening for a long period of time and he feels that this will damage the image of the sport in the country. “This came as a shock for us too. We were not informed about the move and no one knows about it. Nikhat was to face Mary Kom on Monday and now their bout has been deferred. However, this is a league format and each boxer will take another at one point or the other. Now, Nikhat and Mary will clash in the final round on December 17.”
He further added, “It happened during the Rio Olympics as well. Nikhat entered the senior category then and she defeated the then in-form Pinki Jangra. And she was getting ready for Olympic trials. But without any trials, the association had sent Mary Kom to Rio Games.”
Of late, Nikhat has been in good form winning gold medals in Strandja Boxing Championship in February. She then defeated another competitor in the same category, Pinki Jangra 5-0, in selection trials to make it to Indian team for Asian Championship where she returned with a bronze in Bangkok in April. En route to her third-place finish, she stunned two-time World Champion Nazm Kyzaibay of Kazakhstan 5-0 in quarterfinals, showcasing her mettle.