Nikhat Zareen breaks free of societal stereotypes, inspires women

New Delhi:

Women never cease to amaze us with their wit and determination to do what the society has been forbidding them to do. The society spends all its energy trying to pull them down but these woman are continuously forcing it to stand and applaud at the end. 

One such story is of the reigning Women World Boxing Champion, Nikhat Zareen. She fought against all the odds and stood at the highest podium of the world to claim the gold. 

In a recent conversation with a media organisation, Zareen recalled how difficult it was to fight off the orthodox thinking of the people around her, whether it was for her choice of clothes or the type of sports. But she challenged everyone and everything at the age of as young as 4-year-old and decades later, she is still the same, breaking stereotypes and moving ahead of everyone who pulled her back.

Zareen said that she started her sporting career as an athlete of 100m and 200m and due to unavailability of any coach in her district, she trained with her dad. “Before coming into boxing I was an athlete- 100m/ 200metres was my event. There were no proper coaches in that district; hence my dad had to train me. I used to go for training at collector ground. Urban Games were going on there. I saw girls in all sport, except boxing. I asked my dad – ‘why are there no girls in boxing?’ Dad said that girls do box, but in our society they are considered weak. Girls cannot play contact sport. Since childhood I was stubborn, like a tom boy. No one thought I was a girl. I took Dad’s statement as a challenge. I wanted to change the mentality of the society.”

The determination of the 26-year-old has brought her at the stage where the entire nation looks up to her and expects her to touch the seventh sky out there and continue winning medals. 

Talking her early bruised days in the sports, Zareen said, “After discussing with my dad, I started boxing. I was the first girl in that stadium to take up this sport. My first sparring session was with a boy. He hit me a lot. My nose was bleeding, had bruises on my eye. I went home like that. When my mum saw me like that, she started crying and said ‘I do not want you to box and get hit. If you get hit, who will get married to you? We have responsibility of other daughters also.’ I told my mum don’t take stress, when I get medals grooms will queue up.”

Her choice of clothes have sparked debate in her area and now around the world, but the world champion has an answer to that. “It is their personal choice to wear hijab. I can’t comment on personal choices. I like to wear the kind of clothes I wear. My family does not object to it. My family does not mind me wearing these clothes. I don’t care what people talk about me. If they want to wear hijab, it’s their choice.”

Nikhat is walking around the world with heavy responsibilities of changing it for better, yet she manages to stay true to her personality. 

“I am two different Nikhats. Outside the ring I am funny and chilled, very talkative, who loves to eat good food, enjoys shopping, getting clicked, taking pictures, making reels. Inside the ring I am very calm and composed- all the focus on the bout. After all I am a Gemini- so they have two different personalities.”

Zareen eyes on the upcoming Paris Olympics 2024 as she prepares to finally take the fruits of all the pain of the past.


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