Mary Kom had asked 'Who is Nikhat Zareen?': Now is the right time to answer
Telangana's Nikhat Zareen got involved in a controversy with Mary Kom because she asked for a fair trial. Today she has seized her chance and moment to be crowned the World Champion.
Nikhat Zareen had to wait for six long years to unleash the best in her at the Women's World Boxing Championships. The 25-year-old from Nizamabad, Telangana had made her way to the biggest stage of women's boxing in 2022 after an exit in the quarter-finals in 2016. And this time, she didn't leave a single stone unturned to win the coveted gold medal — by winning all her five bouts by unanimous decision of 5-0.
Stepping into the shoes of a world champion tonight, Nikhat, if at all she wants to drag the past, can finally hark back to the legend of the sport, Mary Kom's question.
Incidentally, just before the 2019 World Championships, the Boxing Federation of India cancelled the selection trials for the flyweight category abruptly, on the morning of the event, saying Mary Kom gives India the best medal chance. Nikhat Zareen then wrote a complaint, demanding a fair trial. As it turned out, Nikhat Zareen lost to Mary Kom in the rescheduled trial but it didn't just happen without a fair share of controversy where Mary had responded by saying 'Who is Nikhat Zareen?'
Nikhat was brutally trolled on social media for her 'fair' appeal and Mary even did not shake her hands after the bout in the trials. Nikhat, however, kept her head low and came back to the ring focussing only on her training. At that point, even she stopped taking calls from media personnel.
Not being able to take part in the Tokyo Olympics, Nikhat was waiting for her moment. It was only after Mary Kom decided to step away from the ring after the Tokyo Games, that Zareen knew that this was her chance.
She trained without break and returned to the ring in a new avatar. In February, she became the first Indian woman boxer to claim two gold medals at the prestigious Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament.
Nikhat lived up to her expectations at the 2022 World Championships and in the final, she thrashed Thailand's Jitpong Jutamas with judges scoring the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in the Indian's favour. She became the only fifth Indian woman to secure a gold medal at the World Boxing Championships after Mary Kom (2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018), Sarita Devi (2006), Jenny RL (2006) and Lekha KC (2006).