HT Brunch Cover Story: Kick out the patriarchy!
For boxer Nikhat Zareen, 25, there’s no such thing as losing. There’s only learning how to win, over and over again.
Wherever she is, whatever she’s doing, everything about Nikhat Zareen screams confidence. Whether she’s in the boxing ring or facing the camera for her first fashion shoot, selecting the outfits she’ll wear or chatting with the photographer about the perfect angles, nothing seems to faze the 25-year-old boxer from Nizamabad, Telangana. She seems to intuitively know how to handle things her way.
“Despite coming from an orthodox society, my father supported me. He never gave up and pushed me to be who I am today,” says Nikhat. “It was quite tough initially. There were no women boxers where I trained, so I had to train with men double my size with full power punches. Every day, I went back home with bruises, but I did not give up. My first big breakthrough happened when I won the Junior World Championship in 2011, and that made me determined to go on and win more.”
Besides the physical injury, Nikhat went through a period of mental trauma, doubting her ability to throw winning punches once again, as she would be out of action for nearly a whole year. But with the help of a psychologist, a physiotherapist and a strength and conditioning coach, she not only got over her fears but also won gold at the 56th Belgrade International Tournament in 2018. “Many people, including my friends, had told me that I wouldn’t be able to make a comeback and that my injury was the end of my boxing career. But when I won the tournament, the same people messaged me to say that they were wrong and that I had made the impossible possible. This finally brought back my confidence and I was determined to achieve new heights,” says Nikhat.