On the 27th of February, Nikhat Zareen unsurprisingly made the team for the Boxing Federation of India Women’s World Boxing Championships 2023 team. The event is being held in her hometown of India at a sports complex in New Delhi.
For the largest sub-continent in the world, India pulls its weight as a boxing nation more on the international amateur scene. With the Olympics seen as the competitive pinnacle and the focus of investment in the sport. Rather than a conveyor belt system where fighters achieve Olympic glory but then are funneled through to promoters and win championships at a pro level.
Nikhat Zareen A Trailblazer Of Indian Female Boxing
As the future of Olympic boxing looks uncertain beyond Paris 2024, Nikhat Zareen may see the professional ranks as a do-or-die moment for her attempts to be a trailblazer for women’s boxing in India. Especially as when Nikhat recounted to Olympics.com that the pivotal moment in her decision to turn pro was the fact that she saw boys and girls as equals and as equally strong, so was struck by the fact that no girls were competing in boxing when she watched a tournament. ‘Boxing bas ladke hi karte hai kya?’ she asked her father at the time, which translates in English to ‘Is Boxing only for boys?’
Nikhat Zareen has already achieved cultural recognition as an influential athlete in India. She is nominated for the BBC Indian Sportswoman Of The Year Award, after winning gold at last year’s Worlds, the Commonwealth Games, and the National Championships. The nomination is significant, as it refutes a potential argument that there is not enough of interest for Indian female boxers, to generate a captive audience.
Nikhat Zareen In The Commonwealth Games
What’s more, she has the style to gain attention immediately on the pro scene. In the Commonwealth games, I followed her pathway to the gold medal and was struck by the speed with which she interchanged between throwing vicious hooks with both hands.
It’s no wonder she’s being described as the face of Indian boxing by its national media, but the hope surely has to be that she reaps the rewards of that platform to the fullest. And that means earning the financial and sporting awards that come with the professional game, and also the impact that she can have on growing the sport of boxing amongst Indian girls, so when they grow up, they no longer ask ‘Is Boxing only for Boys?’
By Harry Duffy