Women’s Day 2023 Nikhat Zareen: Important for women to ask questions nobody dares to ask


ByHenna Rakheja, New Delhi

Fighter. Rebel. Changemaker. Boxer Nikhat Zareen has never shied away from accepting any of these tags, and then some more that came her way, alongside the medals! She started out as a “big rebel” in her family. Recalling her childhood and growing-up years, she feels, “It’s important for women to ask questions that no one dares to ask, and take up the task to prove the so-called male-driven society or orthodox mentality. You know, normally parents don’t allow their daughters to take up sports, especially combat sports, because they fear that they might get injured and no one will marry them or because of some other religious issues. But if a girl wants to achieve something, she can rise up to any challenge.”

“When I started boxing, people used to pass all sorts of negative comments about me and my family,” recalls the 26-year-old, adding, “They were not able to digest that a small girl from a Muslim family had taken up boxing. I remember people coming over to my house and telling my dad ‘Jameel bhai ladki ko boxing mein kyun daale? Sahi nhi hai.’ But my dad was unaffected by such comments and helped me to stay focused on boxing only.”

Today, as she makes her voice heard as the first Indian Muslim woman to have won the 2022 IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, she stays focussed on her aim: “I only focus on playing well and making my country proud.”

Her wins have made her an inspiration for many young girls who aspire to take up sports or are beginning to find a footing in this arena. Zareen shares, “I feel happy when I see new girls taking up boxing because somewhere I can connect with them. I know that they must have also faced a lot of difficulties getting there… Women can also achieve so much if they are given the right opportunities and support.”

All set to reclaim her title in the upcoming world championships in Delhi, she says when she is in the ring, the cheering from the “certainly motivates” her to perform better. “Before my match, I pray to the Almighty and focus on the thought that I have to show my A-game, whatever the end results may be,” she shares, adding how crucial it is for a sportsperson to stay positive: “I’d like to advise the budding generation that no matter how big the challenge is in front of you, you should never give up! Just keep fighting for dreams until you start living them.”

Author tweets @HennaRakheja

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