Recently crowned world champion Nikhat Zarin will make her maiden campaign at a Commonwealth Games boxing event when she takes on Mozambique’s Helena Ismail Bagao in the women’s 48-50kg light flyweight category on Sunday.
The 26-year-old Nakhat has an easy draw in the quarter-finals as she will face another lower-ranked boxer in Wales’ Helen Jones if she manages to get past the Mozambican pugilist.
Nikhat has been in superb form as he stormed to the World Championship title in May this year, defeating Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in the flyweight final in the 52kg category in Istanbul.
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With this win, she became only the fifth Indian woman boxer to win a gold medal at a world championship, joining MC Mary Kom, Leshram Sarita Devi, Jenny RL, and Lekha KC as the first to win a world championship. Only the second Indian to become a boxer. A gold medal outside India after Mary Kom, who did it four times out of her six gold medals.
That year, Nikhat also won gold at the prestigious Strandja Memorial Boxing Tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria, defeating three-time European Championship medalist Telana Rob of Ukraine in the final. This win and his world championship victory established Nakht as the pound-for-pound best boxer in his weight class.
A Commonwealth Games gold medal would further boost the reputation of Nakht, who had struggled to make it in a weight category dominated by the legendary Mary Kom for years.
After emerging from Mary Kom’s shadow by winning the gold medal in Istanbul, Nakht now has another chance to further establish her dominance as Mary Kom had to withdraw from the trials due to injury.
With the age to work against Mary Kom, Nikhat now has a chance to win gold at Birmingham 2022 and establish himself as India’s best boxer in the 50-52 kg weight division. He had to lose two kilograms for the Commonwealth Games and will have to gain some weight again for the Asian Games in 2023 and the Paris Olympics in 2024.
A gold medal at Birmingham 2022 will certainly boost his spirits ahead of the tougher challenges at next year’s Asian Games and the subsequent Olympics in the French capital.
Nakhat Zarin’s journey to further glory will begin with the women’s 50kg division at the Commonwealth Games on Sunday. Hailing from Osmanabad in Telangana, Makar needs to grab his opportunities with both hands and establish his authority on the field to emulate Mary Kom.
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