Son of a poor peasant farmer he was born in Leontari Peloponnese and was a nephew of Kolokotronis and also served in the British Army of the Ionian Islands. In 1821 he bacame chieftan of a band of "Palikaria" or 'fighters'. He fought Kiaya Bey at Kakia Skala in 1821 and again at Aghia Marina. Nikiats served under Odysseas Androutsos against Dramali approaching Thermopylae. After Dramailis invasion of the Morea (as the Peloponnese was then known) Nikitaras inficted a terrible blow upon Turkish forces at the narrow pass near Corinth where he lay in ambush and kileed 3,000 of the enemy. The reult of this battle earned him the nom de guerre "Turko-phagos" or Turk-eater
During the seige of Mesolonghi sailors braving the blockade demanded advance money for delivery of supplies from the impovrished defenders. Nikitaras stood forth and said "All I have is this sword and I give it for my country". His exapmple made all present step forward to donate what they could.