Nikhat Zareen, India’s new boxing superstar won the gold medal at the 52-kg World Boxing Championships tournament in Istanbul. She defeated Thailand’s Jutames Jitpong 5-0 and won the match with a unanimous decision. With this, Zareen has become the only woman boxer after Mary Kom to have achieved this feat. She is also the fifth Indian woman boxer to win gold medal and world championship.
ONE FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS ✍️ ?⚔️@nikhat_zareen continues her golden streak (from Nationals 2021) & becomes the only 5️⃣th ??woman boxer to win?medal at World Championships?Well done, world champion!??♂️?@AjaySingh_SG#ibawwchs2022#IstanbulBoxing#PunchMeinHaiDum#Boxing pic.twitter.com/wjs1mSKGVX— Boxing Federation (@BFI_official) May 19, 2022
The 12 year journey of Nikhat has been full of ups and downs. From suffering a shoulder injury in 2017 to coming face to face with the best in the game (Mary Kom), to get her chance in Tokyo Olympics, Nikhat had to face lot of challenges.
Howeve, her family’s unconditional support for her and the motivation from her coaches kept her going.
Here is a brief glance on her life so far:
1. WHO’S NIKHAT ZAREEN?
Mary Kom, the legend in this sport had in 2019 casually, asked "Who’s Nikhat Zareen", when the latter had demanded a trial for the Tokyo Olympics with Mary Kom. Mary Kom then outboxed Zareen in a match, ending her chances of Tokyo’s Olympics in China. Mary Kom even refused to shake hands with Zareen after the match.
Zareen still remain unaffected by the loss. The same year (2019), she won the gold medal at the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. There, she had also defeated Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Buse Naz Cakiroglu in the semi-finals.
2. WORLD CHAMP IN MAKING
Nikhat Zareen. Photo: PTI
With her cousins, Etheshamudddin and Itishamuddin already into boxing, young Nikhar never had to look outside for inspiration. All she needed was a support from her family, which she got. Her father, former sales assistant in Saudi Arabia and her mother Praveen Sultana stood by her in her pursuits.
At the age of 13, she had decided to make career in boxing. Her uncle Shamsamsuddin motivated her further to take boxing not just because of her grit and attitude, but also because he thought she would make big in boxing.
3. TOUGH TIMES
For any sportsperson, getting a serious injury that jeopardises career is a serious nightmare. Nikhat too went through the same turmoil from 2017-2018. In 2017, she suffered a shoulder injury which kept her out of the game for almost one year.
She had dislocated her right shoulder during the All-India Inter University Championships and had been told of a surgery by a physio. She later admitted that there she got mental scarring, was almost depressed because she thought she would never be able to return to the game ever again.
But she gradually overcame that phase and made a stunning comeback in 2018 when she clinched Gold medal at the 56th Belgrade International tournament.
4. NIZAMABAD TO ISTANBUL
At 13, Nikhat won the State championship gold in 2010 in Telangana's Karimnagar. Within nine months of her into the game, she was adjudged the best boxer in the state besides the gold she won in the sub-junior nationals in Erode (Tamil Nadu).
Jutames Jitpong (L) and Nikhat Zareen (R) at the World Boxing Championships in Istanbul. Photo: PTI
After that, she joined Sports Authority of India (SPI) camp in Visakhapatnam, under the tutelage of Venkateswara Rao. Since then, there has been no looking back for Nikhat.
5. PARIS 2024
Nikhat Zareen is eying the Paris 2024 Olympics which where she will compete in the 54 kg category. Nikhat is also out of the shadows of Mary Kom now because she has proven herself by winning a gold in Istanbul.
Zareen has two years to prepare for Paris. For her father, all Nikhat says is, "One day, I will make him proud by winning an Olympic medal."
After winning the Olympics medals, she also wants to meet Salman Khan in Mumbai.