Boxing - Nikhat
Nikhat Zareen earned India their first gold medal at World Women's Boxing Championships since Mary Kom in 2018, and became only the fifth boxer from the country to land the yellow metal. Image Credit: Supplied photo

Kolkata: Nikhat Zareen, a 25-year-old boxer from Telengana, became the only fifth Indian woman to secure a gold medal at the World Boxing Championships when she scored a dominating 5-0 victory over Thailand’s Jitpong Jutamas in Istanbul on Thursday evening.

Nikhat had to hardly break any sweat in the 52kg final with judges scoring the bout 30-27, 29-28, 29-28, 30-27, 29-28 in the Indian’s favour.

The Nizamabad (Telangana)-born boxer hence emulated the likes of record six-time champion Mary Kom (2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2018), Sarita Devi (2006), Jenny RL (2006) and Lekha KC (2006). It was also India’s first gold medal since Mary Kom last won it in 2018.

Nikhat got off to a lively start and hit some sharp punches to quickly take the upperhand in the opening three minutes against confident Jutamas, who came into the match defeating the three-time World Championships medallist Kazakhstan’s Zhaina Shekerbekova.

The Indian took full advantage of her long reach and maintained her dominance against the Thai boxer, whom she had beaten in the 2019 Thailand Open semi-final - the only meeting between the two, enroute her silver medal finish.

“Winning a medal at the Worlds is always a dream and Nikhat could achieve it so early is extremely commendable. We, at BFI, are proud that our boxers have not only made all of us proud but each of their boxing journeys is inspiring for the upcoming generations,” Ajay Singh, President of Boxing Federation of India (BFI), said.

Eight quarter finalists from India

“On behalf of the Boxing Federation of India, I congratulate Nikhat and bronze medallits Parveen and Manisha as well as the coaches and support staff for this achievement. Our eight boxers qualified for the quarter-finals which was joint most and shows the strength of Indian boxing,” he added.

With Manisha (57kg) and Parveen (63kg) signing off with bronze medals after their semi-final finish, Indian contingent concluded their campaign with three medals at the world’s biggest boxing event, which witnessed a participation of record 310 boxers from 73 countries and also marked the 20th anniversary of the Women’s World Championships.

Eight of the 12-member Indian contingent made it to the quarter-finals in this year’s tournament — the joint highest alongside Turkey. The addition of three medals in Istanbul means India’s overall medal tally has now gone up to 39, including 10 gold, eight silver and 21 bronze in the 12 editions of the tournament - third highest after Russia (60) and China (50).