The diminutive 5.1 feet Amaiya Zafar has amazed the world with his grit. The young 16-year old Hijabi boxer from Minnesota has done something that will benefit a number of young Muslim Hijabi girls willing to compete in boxing in the US.
When the girl decided to box in a zest while talking to her father a couple of years ago, she didn’t know that she will ever box. When her decision to learn boxing became known to her family and friends, they asked her to learn cook or make pizza or something ‘easy’ that a girl of small physic could do.
But she persisted. And once in the ring, she realized that it was her real calling.
Apparently deciding to enter boxing was easier said than done. One she started boxing and spent more than a year into it, she realized that she couldn’t enter the ring as a part of professional boxing in her Hijab or the head scarf that she beautifully wraps around her head. Besides for her covering her arms and legs is essential. And the current clothing for female boxer didn’t allow it.
Thus, besides jabs and punches, she had to fight a war of attrition to enter ring in a dress that covered her body. It was an arduous struggle for the young girl.
Two days ago, when she entered the ring in the first professional boxing match, she was wearing her scarf and covering her arms and legs. Though she lost the first major fight of her life, but she looked content. Too much of her energy had gone into fighting the other war, the war to wear her scarf and she knows she will make a powerful comeback in her next fight.
Amaiya Zafar in a blog post says, “In the 2+ years I’ve pursued boxing, I have faced a lot of adversity. While most support me in this journey, some have opinions that they are eager to share, telling me I should take up baking or sewing rather than taking on a “men’s sport”. Even after being told that I will not be allowed to compete in my Capsters sports hijab and under armour underneath my uniform, I have kept up my training. I train as if I have a fight everyday. I work to keep myself at my very best and to keep God first. When the time comes, I will be ready to fight my hardest! I have the support from my coaches, teammates, and my family to keep me going”.
Zafar has shown that hard work finally pays. Meanwhile Huffington Post quoted Mike McAtee, interim director of USA Boxing as saying that the organization was updating its requirements to accommodate boxers like Zafar. “We are in the process of amending our domestic competition rules specifically to accommodate the clothing and grooming mandates of our boxers’ religions… These rules will provide exemptions so that athletes can box without running afoul of their beliefs” said he.