India’s Nikhat Zareen has won the Women’s World Boxing Championships on Thursday, May 19, in Turkey, becoming the fifth Indian woman to be awarded this world champion title. India finished the tournament with second position amongst various other countries with one gold and two bronze medals.
This is India’s first gold medal at this tournament since Olympic boxer Mary Kom won here in 2018. Mary has been a six-time champion at the tournament. Other Indian women to win this title with gold medal include boxers Sarita Devi, Jenny RL and Lekha KC.
Nikhat, 25, comes from the city of Nizamabad in the southern Indian state of Telangana. She was previously a junior youth world champion, owns the bronze from Asian Championship 2019 and several other medals from different tournaments like gold at the prestigious Strandja Memorial, Europe’s oldest international boxing event, and a silver at the Thailand Open tournament. The June-born Nikhat, celebrated her birthday early as she screamed out of joy when the announcer declared her the winner after the 52kg-final bout in the World women’s championships.
Nikhat defeated Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in a dominant way in the 52kg final with judges scoring the bout unanimously (30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28) in her favor.”Am I trending on Twitter?” an excited Zareen asked after her win. She also expressed how she always wanted to trend once on Twitter.
In 2021, Zareen lost to Mary Kom at the trial events and failed to qualify for the Olympics. Since then, she has focused on improving her game, says Zareen. She will now prepare for the Commonwealth Games trials in which she will participate in the 50kg category.
“People would object to her as a Muslim girl wearing shorts to play sports and we learnt to ignore them. But when she won the youth championship, people changed their minds and said she’d proven herself,” says Mr. Jameel, Nikhat’s father. Despite having a tough journey Zareen has never given up even when a career-threatening shoulder injury in 2017 stole a year away from her.
Haryana’s Manisha Moun (57kg) and debutant Parveen Hooda (63kg) finished the tournament with bronze medals.While Manisha lost by a 0-5 unanimous decision over Olympics bronze medallist Irma Testa of Italy, Parveen went down by a 1-4 split verdict to European Championship bronze medallist Amy Broadhurst of Ireland by a 1-4 split verdict.
“Winning a medal at the world’s is always a dream and Nikhat could achieve it so early is extremely commendable,” said Boxing Federation of India president Ajay Singh. India’s best performance in the event came last in 2006 when the country won 8 medals, 4 gold, 1 silver and 3 bronze. Overall, India has won 39 medals in total,10 gold, 8 silver and 21 bronze medals in the 12 editions of this World championship.