LIFESTYLE

Muslim Teen Wins Right To Box In Hijab In U.S.

"It's just the first step in letting her achieve her dreams."

23/04/2017 6:07 AM IST | Updated 23/04/2017 10:59 AM IST
Amaiya Zafar/Youtube

Ibtihaj Muhammad was the first Muslim American athlete to wear a hijab at the Rio Olympics in 2016. While she won a bronze medal in fencing, it was her religious expression that paved the way for other young, Muslim people to complete while wearing a headscarf.

In Minnesota, 16- year- old Amaiya Zafar has similar aspirations to compete in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, but is not sure if this will become a reality.

As a Muslim boxer, she has been granted the right to compete wearing a hijab in the U.S. under a boxing exemption.

Zafar will be able to dress according to her religious beliefs and box in her first sanctioned match this month, according to the Star Tribune.

To compete in the Olympics however, Zafar will have to convince international boxing organisation, the AIBA, to allow her to participate in her preferred attire, rather than the compulsory sleeveless jersey and shorts.

"This is a big step," her coach, Nathaniel Haile, told the Star Tribune on Thursday. "She's put a lot of labor into this. She earned the right to showcase her skills."

Zafar is relieved she will not have to forfeit matches because of her clothing requirements.

"You get so invested," she said. "My weight is in the right place. My head is in the game."

This breakthrough comes a month after Nike released a line of active wear for female Muslim athletes including sporting hijabs.

Her coach said Zafar has already influenced the community, inspiring two female Muslim teens to start boxing.


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