London: Mary Kom will take on Great Britain’s Nicola Adams in a semifinal match of the women’s 51kg competition at the Excel Arena on Wednesday. Excerpts from an exclusive interview:
Q: What’s your thought on the fight against Nicola?
A: Wednesday afternoon I will fight one my life’s greatest matches. It’s going to be a matter of life and death for both me and Nicola Adams. We are both aiming for the gold and nothing will come between us as we will both go all out in our semifinal at the Excel.
Q: Will crowd support matter?
A: Nicola will get a lot of home support I am sure. But I think the Indian crowd has been fantastic and the way they supported me in the first two matches, I was overwhelmed. It will be a fight between the fans as well and I am expecting Indians to come in big numbers.
Q: Nicola has beaten you before. Will it matter?
A: I have fought Nicola before. The last time I fought her in the world championship, I lost by two points. But tomorrow it’s going to be very different. No history or past records will make any impact as the Olympics are very special. The atmosphere here gives you an entire different feeling.
I have to be technically at my peak to fight Nicola. She is slightly taller than me and has been fighting in this weight category for quite some time. I am a 48 kg fighter but I have gained some weight to play in the 51kg class. So the odds are always stacked against me. It’s not always power, but you use your brains to slip in those point-winning punches.
Q: Will refereeing be key? There have been controversies around Indians.
A: The refereeing here at the Olympic Games has been quite controversial, I hear. Two of our Indian boxers lost close bouts and our appeals were rejected. Refereeing and judging will be crucial tomorrow. I am sure the whole world will watch this fight and the technical officials have to really focus on the bout as much we will do.
Q: Have you been talking to your coach?
A: My coach Charles Atkinson has been in touch with me. He has been providing me a lot of inputs and I really appreciate his tips. We have watched and analysed a lot of videos while I was in Liverpool. So, I can’t complain about the preparation. However, once I step into the ring, it’s always going to me and my Jesus. The Lord must give me all the power. I am sure my husband Onler and mum are going to shout their hearts out. I can’t let them and my countrymen down.
Q: The media has given women’s boxing a lot of spotlight.
A: Yes, I am so happy that women’s boxing has taken the Olympics by storm. The entire media is talking about it. The international media has been asking me so many questions. It’s been a great beginning and I am proud that I already have a medal in my pocket. But I want to change its colour and ensure that India will go back with greater honours.
From an Indian point of view, my wins here prove that women’s boxing has evolved in India. I think we are at par with the men. So, a Vijender is not the only boxer we have. Our girls are good enough and we should talk about them as well. Two of the four medals we have won so far have been got by women. London has been a great leveller for women’s sport in India.