Nikhat Zareen gave a dazzling performance to beat Thai Olympian Jutamas Jitpong 5-0 and become the fifth Indian woman to win a World title at Istanbul on Thursday.
The June-born Nikhat, a former World junior champion and an Asian bronze medallist, celebrated her birthday early as she screamed out of joy when the announcer declared her the winner after the 52kg final bout in the World women’s championships.
Six-time champion M.C.Mary Kom, Sarita Devi, Jenny R.L. and Lekha K.C. are the other Indian women who have won the crown.
India last won a World title when Mary had become a six-time champion in Delhi in 2018.
With this performance, Nikhat – who had earlier defeated World champions in other events – underlined her status as a world class boxer.
“I was thinking about my parents. My mum would do namaz and pray for my success and today her prayers have borne fruit. My father has supported me so much during my journey. I owe everything to them. When I was going through a hard phase, no one but my family and parents stood by me. This is all thanks to them,” said Nikhat.
The boxer from Telangana said she aimed at getting a unanimous decision in her favour in the 52kg final. “Focus was always to aim for a unanimous decision, especially in the first two rounds so that I can get the match in my favour and play the third round a little relaxed.”
Nikhat said she would continue to work on her strength as she hoped to compete in the Commonwealth Games. “I will continue to focus on training and staying injury free now with the Commonwealth Games coming up,” she said.
"Winning a medal at the world's is always a dream and Nikhat could achieve it so early is extremely commendable," said Boxing Federation of India (BFI) president Ajay Singh.
Nikhat had an idea about her opponent in the summit clash as she had beaten the Thai with a 4-1 verdict in their previous meeting in the 51kg semifinals of the 2019 Thailand Open.
The Indian relied on her fast combinations to stay ahead of Jutamas, who landed straight ones and ducked a lot in the opening round.
The Thai delivered more punches in the following round to close the gap a little bit.
Nikhat attacked with more determination and delivered enough punches in the final round to take the bout.
Nikhat had also beaten Mexican Fatima Herrera, Mongolia’s Lutsaikhan Altantsetseg, England’s Charley Davison and Brazil’s Caroline de Almeida with an identical 5-0 margin on her way to the final in a country where she had achieved several successes in the past.
In her previous appearance in the event in 54kg, Nikhat had made it to the quarterfinals in 2016 in Astana.
India finished the event with one gold and two bronze medals. Manisha Moun (57kg) and Parveen (63kg) got the bronze medals.
Overall, India has won 10 gold, eight silver and 21 bronze medals in the 12 editions of the World championships.
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