Golden Boost for Teen Boxer Zareen
By N Jagannath Das | ENS | Published: 14th January 2014 02:25 AM |
Boxing is a manly sport which very few women dare to pursue, particularly in India. But the trend seems to be changing, thanks to the likes of MC Mary Kom.
Trying to follow in the footsteps of the Olympic bronze medallist and multiple-time world championship winner is Nikhat Zareen. The 17-year-old from Nizamabad (Telangana, Andhra Pradesh) won gold in the Nations Cup International tournament in Russia on Sunday, beating home favourite Paltceva Ekaterina 3-0 in the final.
Zareen was a silver medallist in the world junior meet in Serbia last year. At present, her focus is on the world junior meet to be held in Sofia in April and on the Youth Olympics in Chuina in August. Her ultimate goal of course is to win a medal in the 20016 Rio Olympics and emulate Mary Kom.
Her coaches feel Zareen has it in her to make it big. Boxing did not capture her imagination when her father Mohd Jameel Ahmed, a businessman, took her to playground. Her interest was in running.
A young Zareen showed promise in 100, 200 and 400 metres and won medals in local competitions. She was soon to represent her district. At a state-level meet in Kakinada, she narrowly missed a medal.
But Zareen’s life changed when she caught the attention of boxing coach Shamsuddin. A friend of her father, Shamsuddin told him his daughter would do better in boxing. “I was taken aback. But he convinced me boxing would present her with better opportunities. I was in a dilemma,” said Ahmed. “What stunned me was the way Nikhat took to boxing. Within three months, she started winning bouts. At 13, she beat a 18-year-old in the state championship,” recalled Ahmed.
Zareen soon started shining in national events and came under IV Venkateshara Rao at the Sports Authority of India camp in Visakhapatnam. “She has tremendous flair and is a natural talent. She is a quick learner and different from other boxers,” said Omkarnath Yadav, who took her to a national meet.
Her first fling in the international circuit brought her success when she won the 50kg gold in the junior world championship in Turkey and received the Best Talent award. She converted it into a silver in 54kg in the world junior championship in Serbia last year.
Under the guidance of coaches Venkateshwara Rao and Abhishek, Zareen’s success in Russia has given her a big boost. Her eyes are on the world championship and Youth Olympics. She will compete in 51kg, the category Mary Kom won her Olympic bronze in.