It may be a new year but the reigning World Champion, Nikhat Zareen assured us all in her New Year post that the only thing new about her is that she has bigger goals for 2023. After a stellar 2022 (might we add, a golden one) in the boxing ring, the 54kg world champion has a task on her hands to maintain that winning form in the new year.

She became a household name in 2022 securing a hat-trick of international gold medals starting from Strandja Memorial in March, to the IBA Women’s Boxing World Championships in May and then the Commonwealth Games in August. She also topped it off with a gold at the National Championships late in December to keep her streak going. Along the path, she was bestowed with the chance to become the flag-bearer of the closing ceremony at Birmingham 2022 and received the Arjuna Award too.

However, despite the kind of dream year she has had, the multifold growth she has achieved and the confidence she has gained, she remains steadfast in her training and belief to achieve her goals.

Indian women’s boxing head coach Bhaskar Bhatt has watched her rise and highlighted that she, indeed, is still the same Nikhat Zareen after all the success in 2022. And is, in fact, working towards aforementioned bigger goals.

“She put in the hard work all these years to become number one and this year is a result of her hard work and her parents’ dedication. As soon as she got the opportunity to prove her calibre, she did,” Bhatt told

“Pehle Nikhat pehchaan bana rahi thi. Aaj, Nikhat ne pehchaan bana li hai (Earlier, Nikhat was forging her identity. Today, Nikhat has her identity.) The good thing is that she realises it very well and she’s treading very carefully. The more the player develops, the more they become focused, serious and determined and that is what pushes them,” he added.

To watch somebody have a streak like Zareen’s can be euphoric because she doesn’t just win, she owns the ring when she does. Across the Worlds and CWG, she won all her bouts either by unanimous decision or, in one occasion, a stopped contest. It can be especially so to those who have seen her from close quarters. And it is no surprise that her achievements so far have spread a contagious energy and will to excel even across the Indian camp.

As Bhatt said, “A year ago, she was training alongside everybody but her achievements and laurels still did not stand out per se. Now, everybody who was working and training with her back then, also realises that they too can excel.”

“Just looking at her growth and progress has inspired so many other boxers in the circuit. They are encouraged to now push themselves harder. I think she has set a great example for everybody in this field and this camp. Today, she is much more sincere in her training and that speaks volumes about how one can move forward and inspire others along the way.”

Looking forward to 2023, defending her World Championship crown will probably be her most immediate goal. That it is World Championships at home (in New Delhi in March) adds to the occasion. Then the aim to strike gold at the delayed Asian Games which would secure her qualification for the ultimate goal – Paris 2024 – will be another.

“I’m focusing step by step because my goal is Paris and to reach there, these competitions are very important for me to prepare myself,” Zareen had told in an interview after winning gold at Strandja. “I have to make my place there so I need to do well before that. I want to focus on each competition step by step, so my focus is consistency.”

“I take the expectations in a positive way and it pushes me to work much harder than I did at the World Championships,” Zareen said in a media interaction before Birmingham.

And really, those two aspects – consistency and dealing with expectations – will once again be key for the year ahead. By now, it’s well established that Zareen does not back down from a challenge and so, in this New Year, when she comes face to face with a few more challenges, she can look back at the year she has had, carry the confidence forward and continue to knock them out.