Mary Kom to make competitive debut in 51kg India Open boxing

Six-time World Champion Mary Kom will make her competitive debut in the 51kg weigh category at the upcoming India Open.

Six-time World Champion Mary Kom (second from right) poses with Lovlina Borgohain, Sinramjeet Kaur and Sonia Chahel ahead of the India Open.   -  Special Arrangement

Following her return to 51kg, six-time World champion and London Olympics bronze medallist Mary Kom will compete in her first event in the Olympic weight class when she takes the ring in the $70,000 India Open boxing tournament to be held at Guwahati from May 20 to 24.

Keeping the World championships and the Olympic Games in mind, Mary, who clinched her sixth World title in 48kg in Delhi last year, will use the India Open as a preparatory event.

“I have been preparing well for 51kg category. Having got an idea of the competition in this class in Germany, I am ready to give my best at this tournament and test myself ahead of the World Championships,” said Mary, who led six Indian boxers to gold in the last edition in New Delhi.

“I am glad the event will be hosted in Assam this time. With the northeast being a powerhouse of talent, I hope this gives an opportunity to the youngsters to watch and get inspired by watching us,” she added.

While the six-time world champion will be India’s biggest medal hope, Amit Panghal (52kg) will be looking to continue his dominance after conquering the Asian Championships gold.

Assam’s Shiva Thapa (60kg), who created a record by winning medals in four consecutive Asian Championships, will aim to impress and so will Ankushita Boro (64kg), a gold medallist at the 2017 World Youth Championship. World Boxing Championships 2017 bronze medallist Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) will be another of the big medal bets from India.

Keeping in mind the approved weight categories for Olympic qualification, some of the Indian pugilists have changed their weight categories. After her stunning performance at the Asian Championships, where she became the first Indian to win a gold in 81kg, Pooja Rani has gone back to her original weight category of 75kg.

Assam’s Bhagyabati Kachari too has made a similar change while Asian Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun will be fighting it out in 57kg for the very first time. Simranjit Kaur, a silver medallist at the continental tournament in 64kg, has switched to 60kg as well and will be competing with former world champion Sarita Devi, who added her eighth Asian medal this year.

The seven-day tournament will be held under the auspices of Government of India, Ministry Youth Affairs and Sports and the Sports Authority of India.

In the upcoming edition, the gold medallists will get richer by $2,500, the silver medallists will receive $1,000.

“The India Open is a great opportunity for the Indian boxers. In the run-up to their preparations for the World Championships, they will be facing some of the top boxers including Asian Games and World champions,” said Ajay Singh, President of the Boxing Federation of India (BFI).