Muslim girl boxer combat prejudice
Few girls, let alone Muslim girls, can expect to be encouraged to pick up a pair of boxing gloves and go out fighting. But Ambreen Sadiq, a 15-year-old schoolgirl from Bradford, has overcome opposition in her community to win her latest fight and aim for the 2016 Olympics. Hailed tonight as a “pioneer” by the Amateur Boxing Association, Ambreen has already won the national female championship for her age and weight. She has overcome opposition from her community to be nominated as junior sports personality of the year at the British Asian Sports Awards.
In the ring, she transforms from shy Muslim in traditional dress to a rapid-fire fighting machine in shorts, vest and ponytail. Few Muslim women go into boxing, although one exception is Laila Ali, Mohammed Ali’s daughter, a professional boxer who now hosts American Gladiators. A Channel 4 documentary tomorrow night shows Ambreen, trained by coach Naz Jalil of Eastburn boxing club, defeat Leigh Park’s Bobbie Clark. According to one report of the match, Ambreen, who is known as “Beeno”, “dominated her southpaw opponent from the off, catching her with numerous combination shots to go 9-2 up after the first round.” The Bradford Telegraph and Argus reported: “She continued to pressure Clark, who had no option but to come forward to win some points of her own but each time was met with a barrage of punches, leaving the score 14-3 after round two. “The third round was Sadiq’s best. Her skills saw her slip Clarke’s punches, making her miss wildly.
“On one occasion, she slipped under a big right, turned Clark and delivered three big shots which forced the referee to give an eight count as the Eastburn girl triumphed 20-5.” Ambreen has already attended one training session with the England squad. Her father, Shokit Ali Sadiq, who has encouraged her since childhood, said he had predicted since she was a baby that she would become a boxer. “Nobody would believe me.” Ambreen said: “I know you should not show your arms and legs off but I am not doing it so I can show my arms and legs off to the whole world. I am doing it so I can enjoy boxing. It is what I want.”
The Muslim Council of Britain said: “We would not take a position against this.” He said some Muslim scholars did, however, regard boxing in general as “inhumane”. Ayesha Abdeen, vice-chair of the Muslim Women’s Sports Foundation, said: “We believe that women should have an opportunity to take part in sport and keep fit and healthy. A Muslim woman boxer I would say is quite rare.” Martin Utley, regional coach for the Amateur Boxing Association, said she was one of the top female boxers in Britain: “There are other Muslim girl boxers but not at this competitive level. She is pioneering as far as Muslim girls are concerned in boxing.”