Wanted To Prove “Girls Are Strong Enough To Box”: Nikhat Zareen To NDTV | Boxing News
India’s Nikhat Zareen won the gold medal in the 52kg category at the Women’s World Boxing Championship last week and she has been given a hero’s welcome since returning to the country. The champion boxer came to the NDTV studios on Monday and spoke on a range of topics, including the tweet from Salman Khan in response to her earlier interview to the channel.
“I want to thank you all for that. I still want to say that he is not my bhai. My hands were shivering after I saw the tweet,” Nikhat quipped when asked about the congratulatory tweet from Salman.
“When I was typing my hands were shaking and I was emotional. That tweet (from Salman Khan) made my day,” Nikhat, the self-confessed Salman Khan fan added.
The 25-year old also spoke about how she took to boxing, as she was earlier into athletics.
“Before coming into boxing I was into athletics. 100 and 200 metres were my events. As there were no proper facilities or coaches in that district, my dad had to train me. I saw girls in every sport but boxing.
“I asked my father why there weren’t too many women in boxing. He told me that women also do boxing but in our society women are perceived to be weak to take part in a sport like boxing. Since childhood I was stubborn and a tom boy. No one used to think that I was a girl as I behaved like boys mostly. I took that statement as a challenge and decided that I will change the mentality of the society, that we girls are strong enough to pick up such sports also. After that I discussed with my dad and we decided that I would join boxing,” a proud Nikhat said.
She also spoke about being a completely different person when she is out of the ring.
“I am two different personalities. Inside the ring I am serious, calm and composed and all focussed on the goal. Outside the ring I am like a child. I want to eat all kinds of food, do shopping and make reels,” the 25-year old added.
Nikhat beat Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the fly-weight final in Istanbul, Turkey on Thursday. Nikhat is the fifth Indian women’s boxer after Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Jenny RL and Lekha KC to win a gold at the World Championships. The 25-year-old Zareen is a former junior youth world champion. Against her Thai opponent in the final, Nikhat fought with brilliance and brought home the gold medal. The judges scored the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in the Indian’s favour.
Zareen was in top form as she used her technical acumen and covered to court well to outwit her nimble-footed opponent. Nikhat managed to impress all the judges in the first round as she landed far more punches than the Thai boxer. The second round was tighter and Jitpong clinched it 3-2. Needing to get just one judge on her side in the final round, Nikhat went all in and slammed the door on her opponent to eventually record a 5-0 unanimous decision in her favour.
The Nizamabad (Telangana)-born boxer became the only fifth Indian woman to secure gold medal at the World Boxing Championships after record six-time champion Mary Kom (2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018), Sarita Devi (2006), Jenny RL (2006) and Lekha KC (2006).
It was also India’s first gold medal since boxing great Mary Kom won it in 2018.
Nikhat got off to a lively start and hit some sharp punches to quickly take the upper hand in the opening three minutes against confident Jutamas, who came into the match defeating the three-time World Championships medallist Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova.
The 25-year-old Indian took full advantage of her long reach and maintained her dominance against the Thai boxer, whom she had beaten in the 2019 Thailand Open semi-final—the only meeting between the two, enroute her silver medal finish.
However, Jutamas tried to fight back in the second round with a counter-attacking display but hardly managed to cause any trouble for the swift-moving Nikhat, who looked in complete control.
Hitting straight and clear punches, strength proved to be a key factor as Nikhat threw caution to the wind in the final round and kept attacking relentlessly before securing the gold quite comfortably.
“Winning a medal at the world’s is always a dream and Nikhat could achieve it so early is extremely commendable. We, at BFI, are proud that our boxers have not only made all of us proud but each of their boxing journeys is inspiring for the upcoming generations,” BFI President Ajay Singh said.
“On behalf of the Boxing Federation of India, I congratulate Nikhat and bronze medal winners Parveen and Manisha as well as the coaches and support staff for this achievement. Our eight boxers qualified for the quarter-finals which was joint most and shows the strength of Indian boxing,” he added.
With Manisha (57kg) and Parveen (63kg) signing off with bronze medals after their semi-finals finish, Indian contingent concluded its campaign with three medals at the world’s biggest boxing event, which witnessed exciting competition in presence of record 310 boxers from 73 countries and also marked the 20th anniversary of the Women’s World Championships.
Out of 12 participating Indian boxers, eight made it to the quarter-finals in this year’s tournament—the joint highest alongside Turkey.
With the addition of three medals in Istanbul, India’s overall medal tally has gone up to 39, including 10 gold, eight silver and 21 bronze, in the 12 editions of the prestigious event—third highest after Russia (60) and China (50).
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