She was also one of the flagbearers for India at the Commonwealth Games closing ceremony.
Nikhat Zareen won the hearts of all Indians with her boxing prowess that landed her a gold medal at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games 2022. Her performance impressed various known personalities. From the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to millionaire businessman Anand Mahindra, who took to his social media handles to congratulate the 26- year old on his feat.
Zareen’s name has been doing the rounds in the Indian boxing circuit for quite some time now. A look at her achievements and her technical fluency totally justifies all the hype she has been getting. She headed into CWG 2022 as the reigning World Champion and boy didn’t she meet those expectations in grand fashion.
The beginning of a star in the making
Nikhat Zareen was born on the 14th of July 1996 in Nizamabad, Telangana. Her father Mohammed Jameel, was a former footballer and a cricketer. He always wanted one of his four daughters to pick up a sport. Jameel moved from Saudi Arabia to Nizamabad to support his daughter’s boxing ambitions, despite various societal pressures.
She was only 13 when her uncle Shamsuddin, who is a boxing coach introduced a young Zareen to the sport. In her teenage years, she trained at the Sports Authority of India, Visakhapatnam. She was training under the tutelage of Dronacharya awardee coach IV Rao.
It was her passion for the sport, skillset, hard work and commitment that led to her first ever title when she won a gold medal in the National Sub-Junior Meet in Erode in 2010 at the age of 14.
Zareen went on to win gold at the AIBA Women’s Junior and Youth World Boxing Championship in 2011, Turkey. In 2014 she bagged another gold in the Nations Cup International Boxing Tournament in Serbia. The same year she even won a silver medal in the Youth Boxing Championship in Bulgaria.
In 2015, Zareen clinched the top spot in the 16th Senior Women National Boxing Championship held in Assam. The then 19-year-old also won the best boxer at the all-India Inter-University Boxing Championship held in Jalandhar.
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Why Nikhat Zareen is the next big thing in Indian boxing
It was a huge letdown when Zareen was not a part of the nine-boxer contingent that was sent to the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. However, the boxer did not let that disappoint her and continued the hard work, the results of which are evident today .
Earlier this year, the 26-year-old defeated three-time European Championships medalist Tetiana Kob from Ukraine to win gold at the Strandja Memorial Boxing tournament. Zareen also beat Buse Naz akıroğlu, a Tokyo Olympics silver medalist, in the semi-finals of the tournament.
Her biggest moment came in the women’s 50kg flyweight category finals at Commonwealth Games 2022, in which she eased through to win the gold medal without even breaking a sweat. The Telangana-born boxer breezed through her opponent in the finals, Carly McNaul from Northern Ireland, as McNaul found no answers to Zareen’s left hook-right combination. Zareen defeated her 5-0 to secure the match. She dedicated her victory as a birthday present to her mom, as she missed her birthday due to the Games this year.
Zareen’s attacking game while maintaining her calm has been one of the standout features of her winning spree. Now that India’s leading woman boxer MC Mary Kom is heading into her twilight years in the sport, the current CWG flyweight champion will be seen shouldering India’s medal expectations at every international event.
Zareen, in her brief international career, has looked at ease handling the pressure of clutch matches and always looks like she goes for the kill whenever she is in the ring. India will be hoping that she brings many more medals for the country.
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