Feisty Achievers: Nikhat Zareen
While some young girls yearn for branded clothes and heels, this one is happiest with a pair of boxing gloves. Fierce, spirited and determined, Nikhat Zareen has proved what women are capable of by stacking up medals in a sport that is largely considered the fiefdom of men — and all of that, by the time she hit 20! In the hope of making it big like her idols Muhammad Ali and Mary Kom, the Nizamabad native is presently eyeing the gold at the 2020 Olympics.
My father helped me face all the challenges that came my way from both relatives and society. When I was nothing, everyone would question my father as to why he allowed me to take up boxing — and he stood by me through it all.
Champion at 14
My proudest moment was when I won the gold at my first youth world boxing championship. I still remember standing on the podium with our national anthem playing in the background. I was actually crying… and the silver and bronze medallists were wondering why I was weeping despite winning!
On inspiring others
When I won my first world championship medal, everyone realised that a small city like Nizamabad had produced a world champion and began to wonder why there was no representation from Hyderabad whatsoever. That’s when girls from Hyderabad were slowly encoraged to take up boxing. Niharika Gonella got inspired by me; and in 2015, she won a silver medal at the AIBA Women’s Junior World Championship. So it’s really a matter of pride that people are following in my footsteps.
When I started, my relatives would tell my parents that nothing would come of it…that I’d only get punched and my image would be marred in society. One time, I got punched black and blue, and my mother was so worried that no one would want to marry me that she started to cry. I just laughed and assured her that one day when I made a name for myself, the boys would be lining up for me, so she shouldn’t worry about my shaadi!