75 years of independence, 75 iconic moments from Indian sports: No. 61- The rise and rise of Nikhat Zareen

India will complete 75 years of Independence this year. Here is a series acknowledging 75 great sporting achievements by Indian athletes.  Sportstar will present one iconic sporting achievement each day, leading up to August 15, 2022.

The rise and rise of Nikhat Zareen

Nikhat Zareen gave a dazzling performance to beat Thai Olympian Jutamas Jitpong 5-0 as she became the fifth Indian boxer to win a gold medal at Women’s World Championships that happened in May.

Six-time champion M.C.Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Jenny R.L. and Lekha K.C. are the other Indian women who have won the crown.

India last won a World title when Mary had become a six-time champion in Delhi in 2018.

With that performance, Nikhat – who had earlier defeated World champions in other events – underlined her status as a world class boxer.

The defining moment of her career was when Shamsamsuddin, who trained boxers on his own in Nizamabad (Telangana), felt that Nikhat should take up boxing not just because of her attitude, guts and grit but also for the simple fact that he thought she had a much better chance to make it big in women’s boxing.

For once, Nikhat joined boxing at 13 and within six months, she won the State championship gold in 2010 in Karimnagar and was picked for the Rural Nationals in Punjab, winning the gold medal.

Within three months, Nikhat was adjudged the ‘best boxer’ besides the gold she won in the sub-junior nationals in Erode (Tamil Nadu). Soon, Nikhat joined the Sports Authority of India camp in Visakhapatnam under the tutelage of Dronacharya I. Venkateswara Rao.

After eight months training, her amazing run continued as she won the gold in the 2011 World Junior and Youth Championship for girls in Antalaya.

One of the highlights of her impressive career is the kind of planning that was in place – she trained under the Jindal programme for special training under John Warburton in JSW’s Inspire Institute of Sport (Bellary) whenever she was not in the Indian camp.

This way, the whole programme of staying fit and focussed, was a continuous process without a break.

Nikhat had faced a plethora of problems – like the infamous tussle with seasoned Mary Kom with regard to the qualification process for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics or the shoulder injury in 2018 which kept her out of action for nearly one year, when many had written her off. 

But the gritty 26-year old didn’t back off and showcased that she is an embodiment of indefatigable spirit with an intense desire to succeed under pressure.

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