Mary Kom to make competitive debut in 51kg

MC Mary Kom

The second edition of the India Open boxing tournament will feature 35 men and 37 women pugilists from the country, including MC Mary Kom, at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati from May 20-24.

After skipping the Asian Championships last month, Mary will make her competitive debut at home in 51kg category -- a shift from her preferred 48 kg which is not part of the Olympics. The USD 70,000 tournament is expected to have a participation of 200 pugilists from 16 countries.

“I have been preparing well for 51kg category. Having got a real hand 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 Kom, who led six Indian boxers to gold in the last edition in New Delhi.

Keeping in mind the new weight categories for Olympic qualification, other Indian pugilists too have changed their categories. Asian Championships gold medallist in women's 81kg, Pooja Rani has returned to her original weight category of 75kg.

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 and will be competing with former world champion Sarita Devi, who added her eighth Asian medal this year.

In the men's section, Amit Panghal (52kg) will be looking to continue his dominance after conquering the Asian Championships gold in his new weight category.

Shiva Thapa (60kg), who created a record by winning medals in four consecutive Asian Championships, will be aiming to impress the home crowd and so will Ankushita Boro (64kg), a gold medallist at the 2017 World Youth Championship.

The 2017 World Boxing Championships bronze medallist Gaurav Bidhuri (56kg) will be another of the big medal bets from India.

“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).

In the upcoming edition, while the gold medallists will get richer by USD 2,500, the silver medallists will receive USD 1,000 for their exploits as the countdown for the tournament begins.

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