Telangana girl Nikhat Zareen won gold in the women’s 52-kilogram category at the Women’s Boxing World Championships in Istanbul.
She beat Thailand’s Jutamas Jitpong on May 19 and entered the record books as the fifth Indian woman boxer to win gold at the World Championships.
Nikhat Zareen has become a trailblazer and an inspiration. The third in a family of four daughters of middle-class parents, Nikhat trained to be a sprinter, even winning gold at the district level and finishing fourth at the State level, and took to boxing in 2008 as a 12-year-old, on a whim.
Her father Mohammed Jameel Ahmed, her staunch supporter who worked as a sales assistant in Saudi Arabia for 15 years, decided to move back to Nizamabad to support her boxing dreams.
The young Nikhat won gold at the Junior Nationals and was also adjudged Best Boxer. She honed her skills at the SAI camp in Visakhapatnam and won gold at the 2011 Junior and Youth World Championship in Turkey, defeating Ulku Demir of that country.
In 2016 she made her mark in the senior ranks, winning her maiden senior national title at Haridwar when she defeated Manisha Moun in the final of the flyweight category.
Shoulder dislocation in 2017 during the All India University Games and a subsequent surgery kept her away from the ring for a year, but she bounced back and competed in the Nationals in 2018, and then won the title in the Belgrade international the same year.
Medals at the 2019 Asian Championships and Thailand Open propelled her forward, but she did not make the Indian squad for the 2018 Commonwealth and Asian Games.
In the last three years, she has won over the likes of former light-flyweight (51-kg) world champion Ekaterina Paltceva of Russia and two-time former light flyweight world champion Nazym Kyzaibay of Kazakhstan. She beat Tokyo Olympics silver medalist Buse Naz Cakiroglu of Turkey in the Strandja Memorial prior to the World Championships.