Nikhat gets her due, now on top of worlds

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Nikhat Zareen. The name is quite familiar in Indian boxing. Known for her punches and quick foot movements inside the ring and for a few words outside, sometimes vitriolic and at certain times sombre. Nikhat’s rivalry with six-time World Championships gold medallist M C Mary Kom, is more popular than her boxing pedigree. 

When Nikhat beat Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the 52kg final of the World Boxing Championships on Thursday, she punched the air and celebrated. Those days of bitterness and frustration blurred into oblivion.

Growing up in the shadow of a legend is not easy. It can be heartbreaking at times and if she continues winning and securing the space, which under normal circumstances, would be Nikhat’s natural domain, it can be worse. There were words of despair. She cried and endured in silence. “I used to call my mother when I was down,” she recollected those moments. All she hoped for was good tidings. She never stopped dreaming though. Like she said, “… I have taken every competition as an opportunity and I have tasted success. I believe in myself.” 

Champions usually don’t dwell much on missed chances. In 2014, she was the youth world silver medallist and before that junior world champion in 2011. She also represented India at the World Championships once in 2016 in 54kg. 

The pressure of performing was immense on the Nizamabad girl. For mortals, it would have been enough to make the knees wobble, but not for Nikhat. With 2024 Paris Olympics looming, nothing could have been more soothing than this gold. However, the weight categories available are 50kg and 54kg. “After all those hardships, I am a world champion. I’m really happy.” 

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