India Open Boxing: Mary Kom wins first bout, assured of medal

Guwahati: Six-time world champion Mary Kom made a successful return to 51 kg category, overwhelming Mala Rai of Nepal to reach the semifinals and assure herself of a medal, as the hosts continued to dominate the India Open Boxing Tournament here Tuesday.

Walking into the ring to loud cheers from a packed crowd at the Karmabir Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium, the London Olympic bronze medallist wasted little time to record a 5-0 win. Such was the aura of ‘Magnificent Mary’ that even her opponent showed no regret in the loss and was seen sporting a broad smile while hugging the Indian boxing idol in excitement.

“It’s also a learning experience for me. The Nepal opponent was experienced and and quite strong. I’m glad to be back in India. We all are trying our best to make the country proud,” Mary Kom, who made her competitive debut at home in 51 kg, said.

The celebrated Manipuri boxer had opted out of the Asian Championships last month in order to prepare for the World Championships.

Former world champion Sarita Devi assured herself of a medal by sailing into the semifinal with a 5-0 win over Preeti Beniwal in the 60 kg category.

Local favourite Ankushita Boro also ensured a medal in the 64 kg category when she pipped Lalita 4-1 by split decision in another late evening bout.

Mary will be up against fellow Indian and Asian Championships bronze medallist Nikhat Zareen in a blockbuster semi-final as the duo confirmed two medals for India.

Strandja Cup gold medallist Nikhat was equally impressive with a flurry of punches against compatriot Anamika in her 5-0 victory.