NEW DELHI, Oct 18: Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju on Friday steered clear of the controversy triggered by boxer Nikhat Zareen�s demand for a trial bout against the celebrated MC Mary Kom, saying he �should not� get involved beyond advising the federation to make the best choice.
Zareen had written a letter to Rijiju on Thursday, demanding that she be given a trial bout against Mary Kom before the Indian squad for next year�s Olympic qualifiers in China is decided.
This was after the Boxing Federation of India (BFI) stated that it intends to pick six-time world champion Mary Kom (51kg) for the event in China on the back of her recent bronze medal at the world championships in Russia.
�I�ll surely convey to Boxing Federation to take the best decision keeping in mind the best interest of the NATION, SPORTS & ATHLETES. Although, Minister should not be involved in the selection of the players by the Sports Federations which are autonomous as per OLYMPIC CHARTER,� Rijiju tweeted in response to Zareen�s letter.
Mary Kom has maintained that she would go by the decision taken by the BFI, which had earlier stated that only the gold and silver-winners from the world event would be given direct selection for the Olympic qualifiers. Zareen had been refused a trial bout before the world championship as well after the federation decided to pick Mary Kom on the basis of her gold-winning performances in the India Open and the President�s Cup.
Responding to Rijiju�s post, Zareen said she hopes for a fair chance.
�Thank you so much sir for your immediate action. I just hope favouritism and nepotism doesn�t take place for athletes who all work very hard to bring laurels for our country,� she tweeted.
The BFI introduced a point-based selection system last year under which boxers are now being picked on the back of their performances in various graded tournaments and the national camps.
Trial bouts, a norm earlier, are being conducted only in those weight categories in which the coaches and selectors find the competition to be exceptionally close.
Zareen had found support from India�s only individual Olympic gold-medallist and iconic shooter Abhinav Bindra. � PTI