New Delhi: Amid the buzz at the biggest professional boxing event organised in India to date, India’s boxing legend MC Mary Kom couldn’t hide her disappointment and apologised to the nation for not being able to qualify for the Rio Olympics.
Speaking before the much-awaited title fight between India’s Vijender Singh and Australia’s Kerry Hope, the bronze medallist from the 2012 London Olympics graced the ring at the Thyagaraj Sports Complex here, along with Indian cricketer Suresh Raina.
“I am sorry I couldn’t qualify for the Olympics, but I thank each and every one of you present here for supporting boxing, and making it popular,” said the champion from Manipur.
Mary Kom failed to win a quota in the qualifiers, after which India’s request for a wild card for her was turned down.
The gala event saw a host of other celebrities sitting beside the ring. Among them were reality show stars Ranvijay, Raghu and Rajiv apart from Bollywood celebrities Randeep Hooda and Neha Dhupa.
But the crowd reserved the biggest cheer for former India batsman and Vijender’s long-time friend Virender Sehwag. Yuvraj Singh and Suresh Raina were the other star Indian cricketers accompanying Sehwag.
The political limelight was hogged by Sports Minister Vijay Goel, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and Rajeev Shukla.
The fight between Vijender and Hope has been promoted as ‘Return of the Singh’ because it was the first time since 2010 that the Olympic bronze medallist from the 2008 Beijing Olympics was boxing in India.
Vijender’s last appearance in the boxing ring on home soil was during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi six years ago.
Going into Saturday’s fight, Vijender, who turned professional a year ago, held a formidable record of 6-0.