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Nikhat Zareen: From the lanes of Telangana to becoming World Champion in women’s boxing


It has been an incredible, 12-year-long journey in the world of boxing for Nikhat Zareen. Now, after her stunning performance in the Womenโ€™s world championship in Istanbul (Turkey) on Sunday, she and her proud family have every reason to look back with a sense of pride.

It was a success story where a normal middle-class girl from a conservative family defied the routine script and all odds to carve her own space of fame in Indian sport.

Not surprisingly, Nikhat has always insisted on the kind of support she got from her parentsย  – father Mohammed Jameel Ahmed, who was a sales officer in the Gulf before moving back home, and mother Parveen Sultana – to keep going. Being the third among four sisters, it was all the more challenging for Nikhat to explore new frontiers.

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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 womenโ€™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 โ€˜best boxerโ€™ 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.

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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.

Nikhatโ€™s family also recalled that the Rs. 50 lakhs cash incentive handed over by Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao in 2014 was a huge gesture. However, nothing was offered after that despite winning international medals.

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 JSWโ€™s Inspire Institute of Sport (Bellary) whenever she was not in the Indian camp or with Chiranjeevi in Hyderabad.

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

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Right through, Jameel Ahmed recalled that there were many challenges – 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, there was never a moment when we thought of giving up,” Jameel said.

For someone who hated to lose – in the ring and in life, Nikhat is an embodiment of indefatigable spirit with an intense desire to succeed under pressure.

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