Women’s World Boxing Champion Nikhat Zareen’s father is her biggest cheerleader
Having defeated several of the big names in boxing over the last three years, Zareen is now looking to make her mark at the 2024 Paris Olympics in the 54 kg weight category
Nikhat Zareen, who won the gold medal in the 52 kg category at the Women’s World Boxing Championship on Thursday, was originally interested in athletics, after her father, former footballer and cricketer, Mohammad Jameel, made her pursue it at a young age.
The Indian Express reported that Zareen soon became the state champion in sprint events, but at the age of 14, taking an uncle’s advice to pursue boxing, she became the World Youth Boxing Champion in 2011. In 2016, she received her maiden “senior national title in Haridwar”, and in 2018, she won a bronze in the senior nationals, while also winning at the Belgrade international tournament. She also won medals at the 2019 Asian Championship and Thailand Open.
Both of her uncle’s sons were boxers and Jameel supported her throughout, even leaving his job in Saudi Arabia and moving to Nizamabad to encourage her, and her younger sister who plays badminton.
Her journey hasn’t been easy, more so with a shoulder injury in 2017 that resulted in her “missing a full year”, said the daily newspaper. It became even more difficult because the sport required her to “wear shorts and training shirts”, which prompted relatives and friends of the family to “advice” Jameel on how his daughters shouldn’t participate in such sports.
Jameel couldn’t be prouder of his daughter’s achievement. He told the Indian Express, “To win a gold in the world championships is something which will act as an inspiration to Muslim girls as well each girl in the country to aim to achieve bigger in life.”
Having kept her motivated throughout, Jameel says, “While she would get chances in international tournaments, missing out on big tournaments did play on her mind. I would tell her tales of many underprivileged boxers in Nizamabad, who would get happy after winning sub-junior or junior titles and that there is time for everything. After her, two more muslim girls joined the national boxing camp and I would tell her that how she has become an inspiration for others.”
Zareen’s coach Emani Chiranjeevi says, “Her biggest strength has been her will power and the ability to be a perceptive boxer who understands the game well.” He adds that everything that’s a core part of the game comes naturally to her.
Having defeated several of the big names in boxing over the last three years, Zareen is now looking to make her mark at the 2024 Paris Olympics in the 54 kg weight category. However, the biggest challenge will be increasing her stamina and “adding more power and speed in her punches”, according to Indian women’s team national coach Bhaskar Chandra Bhatt.
But before any of that, the family awaits her return from camp, ready to feast on her favourite biryani and nihari.