Uncertain future awaits women's boxing: Mary Kom
New Delhi, June 18 (IANS) With five World Championship titles under her belt, M.C. Mary Kom is one of the legends of women's boxing, but she is not sure that the next generation of Indian women boxers will yield too many icons.
"There is not much competition in India. The nationals are not organised properly. For the last two to three years, there have been no competitions at the national level. I can't see any woman boxer from India shining at the international level anytime soon," Mary told IANS.
"The level of women's boxing has really improved over the years and we need better training for the young, upcoming boxers," she added.
Mary had lost in the second round of the AIBA Women's World Boxing Championships in Astana, Kazakhstan in May which dealt a severe blow to her chances of qualifying for the Rio Olympics.
But the ad-hoc committee which is currently running the sport in the country has appealed to the the International Boxing Federation (AIBA) for a wild card entry for the London Olympics medallist.
Mary, who is praying hard for a chance to represent the country in her second Olympics, is confident that she will finish on the podium if she is allowed to take to the ring in Rio de Janeiro.
"I was extremely disappointed after losing at the World Championships. The competition is getting tougher day by day. I am trying my best from my side. Unfortunately, I could not qualify till now. The entire country is supporting me and I am confident their prayers will bear fruit.
"The ad-hoc committee has sent the application, let us see what comes out of it. I am very hopeful," Mary said.
"If I do get to Olympics, I have high chances of getting a medal. I have trained really hard and I am in good shape right now. I was unlucky at the World Championships. I should have won that bout, but these things happen in sport," she asserted.
Indian boxing has been going through a rough patch since 2012 when the AIBA banned the national federation over allegations of rigged elections.
Ever since, the two suspended rival bodies -- Indian Amateur Boxing Federation (IABF) and Boxing India (BI) -- have been bickering with each other.
Currently, an ad-hoc panel appointed by the AIBA is running the show, but the sport has suffered a lot with no national championships since 2012. The training calendar and camps for elite boxers, which were meticulously planned ahead of the 2012 Olympics, have also gone haywire.
The problems within the administration have affected performance in the ring with only one Indian boxer -- Shiva Thapa (56 kg) -- making the cut for the Olympics so far.
Mary, who is currently busy promoting an initiative by Ariel India to remove gender bias in Indian households, refused to comment on whether the absence of a federation has hampered the preparations of Indian boxers ahead of the Olympic qualifiers.
While refusing to comment on issues concerning the administration, Mary expressed confidence that more Indian boxers will clinch Olympic berths.
"Everyone is doing their best. The men boxers are also giving their best. Ideally, I think at least another one or two among the men should qualify," she said.
(Ajeyo Basu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)