Ruqsana Begum: Fighting For Her Sport
Ruqsana Begum has been quite literally fighting for her sport since she was just 18. The now 28-year-old East Londoner has spent a decade battling against her Muslim-Bengali origins to earn herself the title as Britain’s female Muay Thai champion, despite all the religious odds.
Holding her title in the amateur Atomweight division since November 2010 Ruqsana has gone from strength to strength. July 2011 saw her win gold at the European Clubs Cup in Latvia and recently she brought home a bronze from Russia after impressing at the IFMA (International Federation of Muay Thai Amateur) World Championships in September.
The tournament held in St. Petersburg saw the Team GB captain beat Ranini Cundasawmy from Mauritius before going on to bag the bronze after a close fight against the European Champion Chyslova Liudmila from Belarus, who went on to win silver.
Although she may have started out fighting in secret, Ruqsana’s passion for Muay Thai and her success now sees her family and community back her all the way. While she is not completely without her critics, her rising success has seen her fan base expand as she has become somewhat of an East London sporting hero.
The part-time school science technician has also turned her capable hands to coaching at the charity Fight for Peace, which uses boxing and martial arts to help rehabilitate some of London’s disadvantaged youngsters who turn to crime and gang violence.
Her success in the ring as well as her community commitment was recognised by The Muslim Women in Sport Foundation who shortlisted Ruqsana for the Sports Woman of the Year in 2012.
In 2013 Ruqsana is hoping to repeat her success at the Sport Accord World Combat Games and take the European Muay Thai title.