Hardened by the difficult circumstances of her career, newly crowned world champion boxer Nikhat Zareen said she took a combative approach where “no matter what, I have to fight and give my best”. Continuing his stellar run, Zareen defeated Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas by a unanimous 5-0 verdict to clinch flyweight gold (52kg) in Istanbul on Thursday.
“These two years I just focused on my game and whatever weaknesses in my game I tried to improve,” Zareen told reporters after his fight.
“I worked on my strengths and where I was lacking in my game. I worked on the aspects where I needed to work and made myself stronger.
“All these obstacles that I have faced in my career have made me strong. I have become mentally strong after all of this and my thought process is that no matter what, I have to fight and give my best -even,” she added.
Zareen’s golden feat comes two years after she wrote to then sports minister Kiren Rijiju demanding a ‘fair trial’ for the Olympic qualifiers.
Zareen was mercilessly trolled on social media for it while the legendary Mary Kom caustically asked “Who Nikhat Zareen?” Zareen ultimately lost the fight to Mary Kom in the trials, missing out on a chance to qualify for the Tokyo Games.
The 2011 junior world champion also had to overcome a career-threatening shoulder injury, which kept her out of the ring for a year and saw her miss all major events like the Commonwealth Games, Asiad and the World Championships in 2018.
“In 2017 I dislocated my shoulder, I had to have surgery and then I didn’t compete for a year. I came back in 2018 but I wasn’t at my peak so I missed the big CWG tournaments, Asian and World Championships.
“But I didn’t give up and after coming back in 2019 I didn’t look back. I took all the competitions as an opportunity and I believed in myself. That’s why I am here today.” Zareen will now prepare for the Commonwealth Games event for which she will have to lose weight and come down to 50 kg.
“In the CWG there is a 50kg division, I will prepare for that now.” The 25-year-old boxer from Telangana has started her preparation for the Paris Olympics but is unsure in which weight class she will compete.
She will either have to go up to 54 kg or go down to 50 kg.
Talking about the difficulties of changing weight classes, she said it would be easier to lose weight.
“It’s hard to change a weight class, whether you’re going down a weight division or going up a weight division.
“It’s more difficult when you go from a lower weight to a higher weight because you are at a disadvantage, the other boxers being a little heavy because they come into that weight losing their body weight. So you are facing boxers stronger.
“I guess if I play in the 50kg category it won’t make much difference. Normally my weight stays at 51.51.5kg so my body will work well in 50kg. So for a while , I will continue in the 50kg category.” The 2019 Asian Championships bronze medalist has had a busy 2022 and her goal is to be injury free.
“The challenge is to keep the body at the best level, after Strandja I had to give the trials for the World Championship and the Asian Games.
“It was not easy as you were facing decorated and experienced boxers in tough fights. But I kept my body calm and composed and managed to win the trials and start preparing for the world championships.
“Now I will prepare for the CWG. The main goal will be to keep the body injury-free.”
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