It was, perhaps, just a coincidence or destiny, but that moment will determine life for the newly-crowned flyweight world champion.
That’s when it all started Mohammed JamilThe former footballer and cricketer decided to take his daughters out to play one summer evening.
“I told them we would go to the field and play so that they could learn something. Someone went to play basketball, someone played handball etc,” he told PTI.
“After observing for a few days I saw Nikhat’s body language and I knew he would be a sport person. So, I bought a tracksuit and told him we would get on the train tomorrow.”
Jamil trained Nikhat in 100m and 200m and she inherited her father’s sporting jeans. She was natural and soon became the district champion.
Then one day boxing caught his fancy.
𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐋𝐃! He’s finally here. The culmination of years of hard work and perseverance. India, its… https://t.co/iXbIioJypY
– Nikhat Zareen (nikhat_zareen) 1653028858000
“There were some urban games going on where I was going to train with my dad. And I saw that there were girls in all sports except boxing,” Nikhat recalled hours after she had won her gold medal.
“I asked her, ‘Why don’t some girls play, is boxing just a men’s sport?’
Jamil was surprised, but he explained to Nikhat that boxing is a daring sport regardless of gender.
“I told her you need to be mentally strong, you need to have strength and speed for boxing. You need to have the courage and strength to beat the person in front of you,” he said.
Nikhat’s answer was simple but full of assurance: “I will play (I will play)”.
After a while, she was training with the boys as the girls did not take up boxing in Nizamabad.
“She had to train with the boys, run with them. Initially she got slightly injured while fighting. But she started gaining confidence and started punching the same kids who hit her earlier,” Jamil said.
“We knew he would do well in the girls because of the speed and strength he has developed in playing with the boys. The girls can’t even touch him nationally,” he said proudly.
With boxing came vests and training shorts and coming from a Muslim family, Nikhat and his parents faced a lot of sorcery and comments.
“The district is rural. No one here knows much about sports. A girl from the Muslim community in particular comes to play which people did not know.
“People got to know more when she won a medal at the national level.
“Many will say what is it ?, how is the dress ?, what is the figure? Who will get married if I get married ?, Life will be bad. Marry her? Her life will be ruined).
“I was just listening.”
It didn’t take long for Nikhat to seal her power as she won her first sub-junior national title and the Junior World Championship a year later.
Today, she is only the fifth Indian boxer to win World Championship Gold under her belt and second only to MC. Merry comTo achieve outside India.
She also rose in rank at the senior level, winning a series of medals at international events, including two golds at the Strandja Memorial, a bronze at the 2019 Asian Championships, as well as several national players.
“Now the same people are asking if Nikhat has been selected in the team, when she is going for the tournament, what was her performance, when is her next match.
“Today’s result has changed her not only for the people of our community but for the whole of India. It is an inspiration. Maybe, “said Jamil.
Nikhat has been such an influence in his community that Jamil doesn’t just get his phone calls TelanganaBut other states also have to train their children.
“When we came to Hyderabad, many people approached me not only from here but also from other states. ‘If you start an academy, we will send its children. Please start a training center.’
Nikhat’s family has been very supportive of his dreams. When she won the title, she roared joyfully before breaking down in tears, thinking of her parents.
“I was thinking about my parents. They were with me in my bad times. I wanted to give them a hug,” Nikhat said.
She was supported by her family through a dangerous shoulder injury that led her to the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and World Championships.
“It was a difficult time but Nikhat was strong. After that she could only win bronze.
“But we kept encouraging him. I told him ‘age is by your side and you can come back’,” Jamil recalled.
Going forward, Jamil is confident that his daughter will become an Olympic champion in Paris, but for now, he wants her to return home as the best boxer with a gold medal.
“He will definitely return with a medal from the Paris Olympics. I have no doubt about that.
“She has momentum. She has beaten good players before Kovid in 2019 and 2020. This is an inspiration to her. She knows now that she can beat good, strong players.
“She has realized her potential which has made her strong. She knows she is number one and she has proved it,” he said.