If a genie appeared and granted the World boxing champion Niklhat Zareen a wish on returning home with the world title, it would be a meeting with Bollywood’s superstar Salman Khan. Nikhat Zareen, 25, told a television channel she is a huge fan of Salman Khan and if it was up to her she would fly to Mumbai directly from Istanbul to meet him.
Showing her witty side, when the TV anchor asked Zareen if she would like to meet ‘Baijian’ (Brother) on returning to India, Zareen asked, “Who is Bhaijaan; maybe he is your Bhaijaan; I never called him my Bhaijaan, he is Salman Khan for me,” said Zareen with an impish countenance.
Salman Khan congratulated Zareen to make her feel on top of the world, once again. She responded to Bhaijaan;'s post on Twitter:
Being a die hard fan girl, It’s one of my favourite dream that has come true. I could never believe that @BeingSalmanKhan would tweet for me. I’m so much humbled. Thank u so much for making my win more special . I’ll savour this moment forever in my heart.😭❤️#Fangirlmoment https://t.co/tsv3jBr5KL— Nikhat Zareen (@nikhat_zareen) May 20, 2022
Her dazzling performance at the world championship and to becoming the first Muslim from India to achieve the title, have taken the Pakistani media by surprise and shock. The anchors and sports analysts are showering copious praises on Nikhat Zareen, the girl from Nizamabad, Telangana, who began her sports journey at the age of 12.
Pakistani media analysts praised Nikhat’s achievement especially for being a Muslim woman. “We can’t even think of it,” said a woman analyst. “IN Pakistan before a woman speaks of taking to boxing her parents will try some boxing on her,” she said.
Nikhat gets an award of 1 Lakh USD as the reigning queen of the boxing world.
Nikhat told the media that she was keen to know if Prime Minister Narendra Modi had tweeted about his success. “I haven’t opened my phone fully and don’t know if that has happened,” she told a TV anchor from Istanbul.
Later she, In reply to Modi's post congratulating her, thanked Prime Minister for his support and encouragement.
Nikhat Zareen also posted her pictures of the tournament on Twitter:
𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐 𝐖𝐎𝐑𝐋𝐃 𝐂𝐇𝐀𝐌𝐏𝐈𝐎𝐍! 🥇— Nikhat Zareen (@nikhat_zareen) May 20, 2022
It's finally here. The culmination of years of hardwork and perseverance. India, this one's for you. We did it, together🔥#WorldBoxingChampionship#IBAWWC2022 🥊🥇🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/JK5yhxblTy
She also wondered if after her victory she was trending on Twitter. Nikhat Zareen has been trending on Twitter since Thursday night.
Her father Mohammad Jameel Ahmad told BBC in an interview that being a Muslim he had to face a lot of criticism for exposing his daughter to “manly sports.”
“I knew it would happen and I didn’t care. Our target was to bring honour to the country and it has happened,” he said.
However, he admitted that he was conscious of the general disapproval –tacit and open –of his relatives and neighbours and had decided to not let that affect him and his daughter.
“We would take the back lane of our house while leaving for practice to avoid being seen by our Muslim neighbours,” he said.
Her mother said she too had to bear a lot of pressure from people who warned her that “her daughter would not get a match to marry is she continued with her sports.” However, she said her concern was always Nikhat Zareen’s physical well-being. “I am a mother and can’t bear to see my daughter being beaten up,” said her mother.
While Twitter is going gaga over her feat, the most heartening congratulatory message has come from the six-time world champion Mary Kom, with who she had some tension in the past.
Taking to Twitter, Mary Kom said:
People from all partsof India have taken to social media to congratulate Nikhat Zareen on her achievement.