Mary Kom © Getty Images
Mary Kom added she is hoping for the best © Getty Images

Bengaluru: Star Indian woman boxer M C Mary Kom today said she was keeping her fingers crossed for a wildcard entry into the upcoming Rio Olympics. Mary Kom could not make the cut through qualifiers but the star boxer’s Olympic dream is not quite over as India has decided to seek a wildcard entry for her in the Rio Games, scheduled from August 5. “I am having my fingers crossed and hoping for the best. It will be known by this month end,” she told reporters at the sidelines of a function to announce CP Foods foray into the packaged food business in Indian market here.

Mary Kom (51kg) had missed out on qualifying for the Rio Games after bowing out in the second round of last month’s World Championships — the second and final qualifying event for women for the Olympics. The London Olympics bronze medallist was required to make at least the semifinals to be assured of an Olympic berth in the mega-event in Astana, Kazakhstan. “The Indian Olympic Association and ad-hoc committee (of boxing) are trying their best to get me a wild card. If I get it, I will be very happy. It is not in my hands. It is a fifty-fifty chance,” the 33-year-old boxer said.

Mary Kom said she was still doing her workouts earnestly and keeping herself in good stead. “I am still doing my workouts earnestly, and still have high hopes. I am keeping up my physical fitness,” she said. Asked what went wrong in the qualifying round of the World Championship, she said it was a tough and a close match. “I gave my best, but still lost. It was a very tough match and a close fight,” she said. Meanwhile, speaking about late Muhammad Ali, who passed away in the USA after a 32-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, the five-time World champion said she was inspired by the legendary boxer to take up boxing as a career.

“Like other boxers, I was also inspired by Muhammad Ali when I donned the gloves and opted boxing as my career. He is my hero and he will always remain so. All boxers and athletes miss him and it is a big loss to the world of sports,” said Mary Kom. Stating that the most striking quality of Ali was his aggression in the ring, Mary Kom said he was mentally and physically a strong athlete. “The quality I liked in him was his aggression in the ring. He was mentally and physically strong,” she added.

Replying to a query, Mary Kom said there was a need for a boxing federation in the country. “We want boxers’ federation to be formed as early as possible. It will be good for young pugilists. Absence of a federation is disadvantageous for young boxers as they are deprived of the much-needed support, she said. “It also hurts. For instance, I was very sad when our flag was not there when I won a bronze in Asia-Oceania tournament. The flag wasn’t there because we do not have boxing federation,” she said.

On International Boxing Association (AIBA) throwing the Olympic door open for professional boxers, Mary Kom said: “Amateur boxers will get maximum benefit if professional boxers are allowed to contest in the Olympics.”