Young Achiever: Nikhat Zareen

EducationWorld November 2022 | Young Achiever
Somasekar Mulugu (Hyderabad)

India’s women’s boxing star Nikhat Zareen (26) who won a gold medal in the lightweight cat­egory at the Commonwealth Games which concluded in Birmingham on August 8, and was crowned world champ at the International Box­ing Association (IBA) Women’s World Boxing Championships held in Istanbul three months earlier, is not resting on her laurels. She is training six hours daily in national boxing camps in Delhi, and at the world-class Suchitra Academy, Hy­derabad to retain her world cham­pion title at the IBA Championship scheduled to be held next March.

Born into a sports loving fam­ily — father Jameel Ahmed was a junior national footballer and state-level athlete, and younger sister Afran (17) is a promising badmin­ton player — Nikhat, a humanities graduate of AV College, Hyderabad, attributes her success entirely to extraordinary family support. “I owe a lot to my father who inducted me into athletics and fitness train­ing. Moreover, my coaches — Mohd. Shamshamuddin, I.V. Rao and Emani Chiranjeevi — motivated me at various stages of my career,” she recalls.

“I am determined to retain my IBA title early next year. That will be the first step towards winning the gold at the 2024 Paris Olym­pics,” adds Nikhat with steely determination.

Introduced to the sport at age 13 (2009) at a beginners’ camp on the invitation of veteran boxing coach Mohd. Shamshamuddin in her na­tive Nizamabad district, Nikhat took to this pugilis­tic sport like a duck to wa­ter. Within six months, she won her first gold medal at the National Rural Games in Karimnagar, Telangana. Shortly thereafter, she was selected by the Sports Authority of India for training under I.V. Rao, a Dronacharya awardee, at its facility in Visakhapat­nam. In 2010, she won a gold medal at the Erode National Games and a year later, won the World Junior and Youth Championship in Antalya, Turkey.

“Women in boxing is a new phenomenon globally, but it is becoming increasingly popular as women are asserting their equality with men worldover. Sania Mirza, India’s women tennis star, who has won several Grand Slam doubles and mixed doubles championships is also from Hyderabad. I hope our example will encourage Muslim girls in India to participate and shine in sports and games,” says Nikhat.

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