India Today

A Meteoric Rise


Who is Nikhat Zareen?” Mary Kom had asked sarcastica­lly in 2019 when the boxer from Nizamabad had taken to social media to request a national trial to face the legend and hopefully earn a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. Zareen lost the bout but not her determinat­ion to succeed. Two years later, with three gold medals in 2022 alone, including the World Championsh­ips in May and the dominant performanc­e in the Commonweal­th Games, India knows who Nikhat Zareen is. Given her talent and personalit­y, they are unlikely to forget too.

Breaking barriers comes naturally to Zareen, who became one of the first Muslim women to represent India internatio­nally in boxing. In this, her father’s role was paramount. Mohammed Jameel Ahmed set social objections aside, including that of his wife, to encourage his teenage daughter and trained her initially. Zareen rose fast, becoming the 2011 world junior champion, only to see the momentum swing after a shoulder injury kept her out of the ring for over a year. With Kom in the twilight of her career and given Zareen’s stellar run, she remains to be one of India’s biggest medal contenders in Paris 2024.

 ?? AP ??

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