SAG boxing: Indian women's 'golden' sweep

Mary Kom knocked out Sri Lanka's Anusha Dilrukshi in the flyweight final, while Sarita Devi scored an emphatic 3-0 win over Vidushika Prabhadhi, also of Sri Lanka, in the lightweight summit clash. Pooja Rani then knocked out Andaraweer Nilanthi of Sri Lanka to make it a cleansweep for India.

India's M. C. Mary Kom with the gold medal after defeating K. Anusha Dilrukshi of Sri Lanka in the final of the flyweight category at the South Asian Games in Shillong.   -  M. Moorthy

Indian women, like the men, won all three boxing gold medals on offer with a measure of comfort, as the 12th South Asian Games came to an end here on Tuesday.

Five-time World champion Mary Kom knocked out Sri Lanka's Anusha Dilrukshi in less than two minutes in the flyweight final, while the Incheon Asian Games bronze medallist, Sarita Devi, scored an emphatic 3-0 win over Vidushika Prabhadhi, also of Sri Lanka, in the lightweight summit clash. Pooja Rani, the lesser-known Incheon Asian Games bronze medallist, knocked out Andaraweer Nilanthi of Sri Lanka in the second round to complete the sweep.

The start of the women's boxing finals was delayed a bit as all the International judges from Japan, the Philippines, China, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, numbering 14 in total, reportedly refused to officiate citing non-payment of their per diem rate by Indian officials. Normally, in an international event, the International judges are paid their allowances in advance and not on the last day. It wasn't the case here. But everything was sorted out and the matches went ahead.

“There was no protest,” clarified Kishen Narsi, the Chairman of the AIBA (the international body's ad hoc unit that runs boxing in India).

The focus was on the flyweight (48-51 kg) final between Mary Kom and Anusha. The Sri Lankan had made a lot of noise prior to the tournament, suggesting she had become an experienced boxer and that she was ready to take on the London Olympic bronze medallist. However, the bout failed to live up to the hype. Mary Kom was the first to strike with a heavy right in the first couple of minutes. Anusha tried a ‘clinch’ but Mary Kom came out of it and threw a right jab at the Sri Lankan who fell down with a thud and in the process injured her right knee. She was writhing in pain.

When Anusha came back, she countered the Indian with a series of right-left combinations, but Mary Kom returned favour with a flurry of punches that knocked Anusha out of the ring. Thereafter the referee stopped the contest.

“I was attacking seriously for every match. I don’t want to take it easy. I was focussed at every round. The entire nation is supporting. I will try to do better and better,” said Mary Kom.

On Anusha's comments prior to the contest, Mary Kom replied: “Before the match she's challenging. It's good. I'm so happy. If anyone is challenging me, I won't comment before the bout. But deep inside, I was very positive. Do better and better. After giving birth, a comeback is not easy. I still do training to motivate myself. I'm thankful to my entire team.”

In contrast, the lightweight clash between Sarita Devi and Vidushika Prabadhi was closely contested. Sarita started off with a series of quick left-right punches, and the Sri Lankan was unable to do anything. The referee had to stop the match for a brief while with Vidushika panting in the second round. Sarita was looking good to seal the contest.

There was not let-up in the third and fourth rounds as Sarita unleashed a series of punches. But midway in the fourth round, Vidushika surprised Sarita by landing accurate punches. So much so that one of the officials gave the Sri Lankan full 10 points in the round. But the Sri Lankan's comeback was short-lived and in the end, it turned out to be a comfortable win for the Indian.

Pooja Rani bagged the middleweight (69-75 kg) gold, knocking out Andaraweer Nilanthi in the second round of the last bout.

Later in the day, Pakistan and India shared the four gold medals on offer in the judo competition at the 12th South Asian Games. For India, Pooja (women's u-70kg) and Avtar Singh (men's u- 90kg) bagged gold, while Fouzia Mumtaz (women's u-78kg) and Hussain Shah (men's u-100kg) took first place for Pakistan. India thus came away with nine gold medals in total, along with three silver.

Results (all finals):

Women — Flyweight (48-51 kg): Mary Kom bt K. Anusha Dilrukshi (SRL) TKO Rd1.

Lightweight (57-60 kg): M. Vidushika Prabadhi (SRL) lost to Sarita Devi 3-0.

Middleweight (69-75 kg): Andaraweer Nilanthi (SRL) lost to Pooja Rani TKO Rd2.