In life and in boxing, the ultimate defeat comes only when the war is lost within the mind. Nikhat Zareen has risen like a phoenix from everything that pulled her back and told her she wasn’t ‘enough’.
With WILL power and WHY power in equal proportions, Nikhat has carved a name for herself in the ring of boxing and in the eyes of the world. Her story is a hallmark of indomitable courage and an unending hunger for glory.
THE HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
Nikhat was born to a Muslim family in Telangana and had to bear the brunt of countless questions as her father trained her in the art of boxing. She comments that people used to look at her with raised eyebrows, as a girl in shorts wasn’t a common sight in her day. She had to take on the boys in her early years, and they too were not tender to her.
The turning point came as Nikhat was put under the guiding light of IV Rao, who is a Dronacharya awardee himself. She pushed herself to the limit and bloomed into a seasoned boxer as the world stood watching.
EARLY CLAIM TO FAME
The year was 2011. Nikhat clinched the gold medal at the Junior and Youth World Championships in 2011. She marched on to secure silver at the Youth World Championships in 2013. All of it felt and appeared like a dream to her. The battle, however, had just begun.
THE STORMS STRIKE
As Nikhat set foot into the senior category, decorated with the likes of Mary Kom and other popular boxers, a breakthrough was essential. The back-breaking competition in the 51 kg category pushed her to the 54 kg bracket. Nikhat recalls: “Once, I was denied participation even in a trial. That made me question whether they didn’t find me worthy even for a trial.”
Her spirit, however, did not suffer a dent. She aced the trials and climbed all the way up to the world Championships in Astana.
INJURY AND BREAKING FREE
Then, in 2017, Nikhat dislocated her shoulder. A mountain of troubles came crumbling down on her budding career. This time, it wasn’t the 54 kg category that she could be pushed into. She was on the verge of being pushed out of the boxing ring for an indefinite time. But fate had other plans.
Nikhat came back with a bang into the raging boxing arena. Belgrade Winner International Championship in 2018, an Asian Championships Bronze, and a gold at the Strandja boxing tournament – all of her victories pointed in the direction of something big, just like a compass.
THE LIONESS ROARS
Thursday, May 19, is a day India will cherish till the end of time. Nikhat Zareen proved her mettle as the 5th Indian women to conquer the World Boxing Championship. The nation basked in her grandeur. Congratulations poured in from left, right and center. With tweets from the honourable Prime Minister to Salman Khan, the day was no less than a fairy tale.
For Nikhat, it wasn’t just the game of a lifetime, but a bold answer to the thousand question that threatened to control her with the strings of conservatism and fickle mentality.
All said and done, the buzzing child in Nikhat makes her persist and train like there was no tomorrow. Just like her younger self, she still reaches for the skies.