Former World champion and multiple Asian champion boxer L. Sarita Devi has welcomed newly crowned World champion Nikhat Zareen to the elite club of four Indian women who earlier bagged World titles.

“I congratulate Nikhat for her achievement. It is a matter of great joy. Earlier, there were four of us. Now, with Nikhat joining the club, we have become five. This will motivate the younger boxers to work hard and aspire to perform better,” Sarita, who became a World champion along with M.C. Mary Kom, Jenny R.L. and Lekha K.C. in the 2006 edition of the event in Delhi, told  Sportstar .

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Sarita, who runs an academy in Manipur, said Nikhat’s achievement would do a world of good to the morale of the boxing loving girls from the Muslim community. “Nikhat had to fight against a lot of odds to pursue boxing. She faced many roadblocks. A lot of people discouraged her. But her father always backed her to the hilt, accompanied her to most of the competitions and helped her continue with the sport.

“It is not easy for a Muslim girl to pursue a sport like boxing. Nikhat is a fine example for such girls and will be a huge inspiration for them.”

Sarita paid tribute to Nikhat, the only Indian boxer other than Mary to win the World title after 2006, for overcoming the odds. “Nikhat struggled a lot but continued with her hard work. This is the result of her determination and hard work. Even though she went through a controversy, she never gave up. She always believed that she could be a World champion. I must congratulate her father, who always supported Nikhat. I am very happy for her,” said Sarita.