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Home > Culture > Events > Punching Power: World Boxing Champion Nikhat Zareen and her incredible journey
Punching Power: World Boxing Champion Nikhat Zareen and her incredible journey

“Am I trending on Twitter?” an elated Nikhat Zareen asked media persons last night. The Indian boxer had created history by winning a gold medal at the Women’s World Boxing Championships in Turkey’s Istanbul. The Nizamabad-born boxer defeated Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the 52kg final. Zareen joined the league of boxers like the legendary MC Mary Kom and Sarita Devi and became the fifth Indian woman to bag a gold medal at the World Boxing Championships.

Nikhat Zareen: A force to reckon with

Nikhat Zareen
Image: BFI/Twitter

Born to former footballer and cricketer Mohammad Jameel in Nizamabad, Telangana, Zareen was only 14 when she won the World Youth Boxing Championship. It was her uncle Shamsuddin, a boxing coach, who introduced Zareen to the game. She started training at the tender age of 13. It was her father’s wish that one of her four daughters must pick up a sport.

Zareen has made the entire nation proud. And yes, she did trend on number one on Twitter the other night. Everyone from Prime Minister Narendra Modi to billionaire businessman Anand Mahindra took to their Twitter handles to congratulate the 25-year-old boxer on her incredible feat.

Nikhat Zareen’s boxing career

Nikhat Zareen
Image: Courtesy BFI/Twitter

As a teenager, Zareen trained at the Sports Authority of India, Visakhapatnam, under the guidance of her Dronacharya awardee coach, I.V. Rao. Her passion, skills in the sport, and hard work led her to her first-ever victory when she won a gold medal in the National Sub-Junior Meet in Erode in 2010 at the age of 14. This was just the beginning of her very successful career.

Zareen won her next gold medal in the AIBA Women’s Junior and Youth World Boxing Championship, 2011, which was held in Turkey. In 2014, she bagged another gold in the Nations Cup International Boxing Tournament in Serbia. The same year, she won the silver medal in the Youth World Boxing Championship in Bulgaria.

Nikhat Zareen
Image: Courtesy Nikhat Zareen/Twitter

In 2015, Zareen claimed the winning spot at the 16th Senior Women National Boxing Championship held in Assam. She won the Best Boxer award in the All India Inter-University Boxing Championship held in Jalandhar.
When India sent its biggest Olympics contingent of nine boxers to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, Zareen was left behind.

In 2022, the talented boxer defeated three-time Europen Championships medalist Tetiana Kob from Ukraine to win a gold medal at the Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Bulgaria’s Sofia. Zareen also beat Buse Naz Çakıroğlu, a Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, during the semi-finals of the tournament.

In an interview with The Indian Express, Zareen’s father Jameel said that he had to move to Nizamabad from Saudi Arabia since boxing required her daughter to wear shorts and training shirts. “Don’t wear shorts they would tell Nikhat, today she is a world champion,” a proud Jameel told the English daily.

The young boxer’s journey of fighting societal norms and making a mark for herself on an international level is truly inspiring. We wish her the very best in her future endeavours. You go, girl!

Feature image courtesy: Nikhat Zareen/Twitter 

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