Sports

Boxer Nikhat Zareen: “I’m not representing a community, but my country”

NIkhat Zareen, who won the world flyweight title last month, has also been selected to compete in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 28.

I’m here to represent India as an athlete. It makes no difference to me whether someone is Hindu or Muslim. When challenged about people talking more about her religious background than her achievements, world champion boxer Nikhat Zareen stated on Monday.

“I’m not representing a community, I’m promoting my country.” “I am thrilled to win a medal for my nation,” the Telangana pugilist, 25, said during an interview, emphasizing the necessity of having assistance when dealing with mental stress in high-stakes athletic events.

Zareen became only the fifth Indian woman to win a global title last month in Turkey, when she defeated Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas 5-0 in the flyweight division.

Much has been said about how Zareen, who comes from an orthodox family, overcame societal discrimination to pursue a boxing career.

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When the conversation shifted to her sport, she stated that facing “emotional pressure” at the top level is a skill that Indian athletes lack, and she advocated for specialized training to help them overcome this barrier at high-profile competitions.

Indian athletes have a habit of performing well in routine tournaments but falling short on the major stage, such as the Olympics or World Championships.

“Our Indian boxers are extremely talented, and we are in no way inferior to anyone.” When asked where the Indian boxers lack strength, speed, and power, Zareen responded, “Everything.”

“It’s just that once you get to that (global) level, boxers should be given mental pressure training.”

“Once you get to the major platforms, a lot of athletes get anxious and can’t perform,” remarked Zareen, who was speaking at an event hosted by the Indian Women’s Press Corps (IWPC).

Zareen, who won the global flyweight title last month, has also secured a spot in the Birmingham Commonwealth Games, which begin on July 28.

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Zareen had to wait a long time for a chance in the flyweight division, which veteran Indian boxer MC Mary Kom has said, but the Telengana boxer believes the wait has heightened her desire to succeed.

“Not only did I want a shot, but so did the other fighters in that division.” But you must first prove yourself, which I did by becoming world champion.

“I might not have worked as hard if I hadn’t suffered and if Mary Kom hadn’t been in my weight group.”

“And I wouldn’t be a world champion today if I hadn’t worked hard.” As a result, I’ll take it positively. Perhaps I was more hungry because I was given the opportunity so late.” She had wanted a “fair trial” for the Tokyo Olympic qualifications, in which Mary Kom was also involved.

Zareen wanted to hug Mary Kom after the 9-1 victory in the trial, but the Manipuri turned her down.

“At the time, I felt horrible because the person I consider my role model, my idol, acted in such a manner. However, because the bout is so intense, things happen in the heat of the moment.

“I’ve moved on from it; after winning the world championship, I met her, and everything is OK.”

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