India’s star boxer Mary Kom says she was forced to change dress a minute before fight

India’s star boxer Mary Kom says she was forced to change dress a minute before fight
MC Mary Kom has asked for an explanation for allegedly being forced to change her outfit just before her match was about to start

Six-time world boxing champion MC Mary Kom has blamed ring-side authorities of unsettling her by allegedly forcing her to change her outfit minutes before a match against Colombia’s Ingrit Valencia.

“Surprising… can anyone explain what will be a ring dress. I was ask to change my ring dress just a minute before my pre qtr bout can anyone explain (sic),” the 38-year-old boxer from India tweeted.

She also raised questions about the “unfair” decisions that led to her defeat against Valencia, even as it remains unclear why she was asked to change her clothes at the last minute.

Kom, who is the only Indian woman boxer to win a gold medal at the Olympics, said she should have won the “second round unanimously” after suffering a shock defeat. The match ended with a split decision of 3-2 that favoured Valencia in the Women’s Flyweight Round of 16 (51 kg) event on Thursday.

“I don’t know what happened, I thought in the first round, we were both trying to figure out our strategies and I won the next two,” she said after the bout.

It was a dramatic turn of events for Kom, who thought she had won and raised her hand with tears in her eyes. She bowed inside the ring, hugged her opponent, patted her on the back and joined hands in gratitude.

She was convinced she was the winner right until she spoke to the media and went for her dope test after the match. She was, however, subsequently informed by her coach that she had actually lost.

“I was happy inside the ring, when I came out, I was happy because in my mind I knew I had won. When they took me for doping, I was still happy. Only when I saw the social media and my coach (Chhote Lal Yadav) repeated it to me, it sunk in that I have lost (sic),” Kom was quoted as saying by news agency Press Trust of India.

Kom, who won the gold in the 2012 London Olympics, trailed by 4-1 in the opening round. Four of the five judges awarded 10-9 in favour of her opponent. She won the next two bouts and got three of the five judges to rule in her favour. But she needed a 4-1 verdict in the final round.

She lost 2-3 to the Colombian once the scores of individual referees were tallied. It was a close call for Kom, whose stint at the Tokyo Olympics has ended.

This was also Kom’s last stint at the Olympics, as rules made by the International Boxing Association state boxers in the age bracket of 18 to 40 are allowed to compete in national and international levels.

“I had beaten this girl twice in the past. I couldn’t believe that her hand was raised by the referee,” Kom claimed. “I swear, it hadn’t struck me that I lost, I was so sure,” she added in disbelief.

The rules state that referees no longer raise the arm of the winner because of Covid protocols. Names of the winners are being announced instead.

Kom said she might consider resigning from the position of ambassador of the International Olympic Committee’s Task Force.

“The worst part is that there is no review or protest. Honestly, I am sure the world must have seen, this is too much what they have done,” she said. “I should have got the second round unanimously, how was it 3-2? What happened was totally unpredictable.”

Despite her loss at the Olympics, support poured in for the athlete at home, including from two federal ministers of the Indian government.

Kiren Rijiju, who is the federal minister for law and justice and was earlier the sports minister, said Kom’s loss was “unfortunate.”

“I just want to tell Mary Kom that you are already a champion, you have been the champion six times and you are an Olympic medallist. Mary Kom is on different stature, she is already a superstar for us,” he said.

The current federal minister for sports, Anurag Thakur, also lent his support to Kom. “You’ve shown us what it takes to be the best in the world, not once, but throughout your inspirational career,” he wrote in a tweet.