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Asian Games 2014: Vietnam’s Bang Le Thi demolished by her idol Mary Kom

On Tuesday, as the 22-year-old Vietnamese stood toe-to-toe with one of her idols, she was overwhelmed.

Written by Mihir Vasavda | Incheon |
Updated: October 1, 2014 9:45:40 am
Mary Kom gave her a master class in boxing, comfortably beating her with a unanimous 3-0 verdict (Source: PTI) Mary Kom gave her a master class in boxing, comfortably beating her with a unanimous 3-0 verdict (Source: PTI)

Bang Le Thi looked thrilled by merely being in the same ring as Mary Kom. She was just 10 when Mary won her first world title in 2002. By the time she picked up the gloves for the first time in 2007, Mary had added two more titles to her kitty along with two Asian Championships gold.

At her boxing club near Hanoi, Thi would frequently hear her fellow boxers talk about ‘some Indian girl.’ Initially, she wouldn’t know why they were so preoccupied with a boxer none of them had faced. But when she saw Mary at the Asian Indoor Championships that were held her Hanoi in 2009, Thi realised why her teammates were so obsessed with Mary. “She won the gold medal and was so amazing,” Thi recalls.

On Tuesday, as the 22-year-old Vietnamese stood toe-to-toe with one of her idols, she was overwhelmed. Unfortunately for her, she couldn’t quite impress Mary in their first meeting inside the ring. “I wanted to show her that I can fight as well as her but I froze. Playing against her was an honour,” Thi adds.

Mary instead gave her a master class in boxing, comfortably beating her with a unanimous 3-0 verdict at the Seonhak Gymnasium here. Making a comeback after a prolonged absence from the international scene, the 31-year-old mother of three looked at ease against her inexperienced opponent.

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Mary has shown little signs of rustiness so far in this campaign. The five-time world champion defeated Haijuan Si of China, her toughest opponent yet, without breaking much sweat. Against her lesser-known Vietnamese opponent, Mary further enhanced the odds of her winning the gold medal in Wednesday’s final.

While her speed and guile was just too much to handle for Thi to handle, Mary peppered multiple combination punches and didn’t give her opponent anytime to gain a foothold. Le went for broke in the fourth and final round and landed few punches but with the Indian, having already won the previous three rounds there was very little the Vietnamese could do.

After her bout, Mary went straight into the athletes’ lounge to watch her state-mate Sarita Devi’s semifinal against South Korea’s Jina Park. However, the controversial decision sapped the spirits of the Indian camp. “It is very annoying. As athletes, all we ask for is fairness. Everyone saw today that whatever happened with Sarita was not good,” Mary later said. She will take on Kazakhstan’s powerful Zhaina Shekerbekova in the final on Wednesday. “I feel good. Just need some time for recovery but I am in good shape,” Mary said.

Vikas assured bronze

The other two women boxers, Sarita and Pooja Rani settled for bronze after being defeated in their respective semifinals. Meanwhile, Satish Kumar reached the semifinals along with Vikas Krishan, assuring India a medal in the superheavy weight category and middleweight categories after winning their respective quarterfinals. Kumar beat Jordan’s Hussein Eishaish 2-1 by a split decision. Kumar will take on Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dycho in the last four match on Thursday. Earlier, Shiva Thapa lost his quarter-final bout of the bantamweight category, going down to Philippines’ Mazrio Fernandez 0-3.

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