Manju Rani beat Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat in the semifinal of the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships on October 12.
Boxing history was made for India in Ulan-Ude, Russia, on October 12, but not from the source we are usually accustomed to. In what may be a symbolic passing of the torch, Manju Rani became the first woman in 18 years not called MC Mary Kom to reach the final of the Women’s World Boxing Championships, earning a shot at gold.
And curiously enough, Rani did this in Kom’s preferred weight category (48kg), one which the veteran stepped up from to test herself for the Olympics. Her loss was Rani’s undoubted gain.
Rani was making her debut at the World Championships and was, in fact, only made part of the national camp earlier this year. She had caused an upset in the quarters, beating the top seed, North Korea’s Kim Hyang-mi, and upped the ante when it mattered.
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In her semifinal against Thailand’s Chuthamat Raksat, Rani relied on her range and kept the bout at distance, fighting behind her jab for a majority of the three rounds. When she did counter the Thai, it was in the form of combinations, which no doubt helped turn the score in her favour. She won the bout by a score of 4-1 and was even judged to have won all three rounds on two judges’ cards.
In sharp contrast to her bout, her fellow debutant Jamuna Boro, whose performances in the previous rounds had earned her much acclaim, went down to top seed Chinese Taipei’s Huang Hsiao Wen in her semifinal. In sharp contrast to Rani, Jamuna was the shorter boxer and was constantly moving forward aggressively hoping to get inside her opponents’ reach to land shots of meaning. Wen played her part perfectly, relying on her superior footwork and perfect countering to take the win 5-0.
Despite the loss Boro, a 22-year-old with minimal experience at the highest level, has been tipped as a star for the future, and will go back with a bronze and her reputation enhanced.
While Boro, Rani and Lovlina Borgohain’s bouts came to fruition in the second half of the day, the day itself began on a disappointing note, with Mary Kom succumbing to Busenaz Cakiroglu in the semis of the 51kg category to bow out with a bronze — her eighth medal from the championships.
Almost immediately after the loss, though, the Indian contingent raised a yellow card to challenge the decision. The AIBA’s technical committee rejected India's challenge as, according to rules, appeals are accepted only if the scoreline reads either 3-2 or 3-1.
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The issue was far from settled though, with Mary — in a ridiculous and brazen manner — taking to Twitter to appeal to the Sports Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office for help. “Mary fought exceptionally well and should have won the bout. We are still quite stunned that the decision did not go in her favour,” India's assistant coach and Mary Kom's trainer Chhote Lal Yadav said to PTI.
In India’s final semifinal bout of the day, Borgohain -- a bronze medallist from the last edition -- went down to Yang Liu 3-2. Borgohain took the initial round with an aggressive flurry but Liu grew into the contest slowly to take the edge on the scorecards.
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