Muslim teenager enters boxing competition wearing a hijab

(Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

Last month, the International Boxing Association (AIBA) lifted a ban on hijabs and other full-body uniforms that fighters wear for religious reasons.

This meant Muslim teen Safiyyah Syeed, who wears a hijab, can take her love of boxing to the next level.

The 18-year-old from Bradford began boxing a year ago. When she was suffering from from anorexia and bulimia, she wrote a bucket list, which included becoming a boxer.

Overcoming the conditions, Safiyah said she wants to show people that it’s possible to overcome mental health issues and have a positve relationship with your body.

Now she wants to be one of the first Muslim women to compete nationally and hopes to take her boxing to the Olympics one day.

To prepare, Safiyyah, who is studying a leadership program at university, has begun training twice a day.

(Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

‘I was a bit worried at first about being a hijabi girl going into a boxing gym. It’s not what people are used to,’ said Safiyah.

‘But everyone has been so nice and supportive. No one minds that I wear a hijab in the ring.

‘It doesn’t affect my boxing at all, some people think it might make it hard to move but I forget I’m even wearing it.’

Safiyyah, who volunteers at a mental health charity, spars with both men and women during training.

‘I remember the first guy I sparred with, he winded me,’ she added. ‘He didn’t realise he had done it because I hid it because my coach has always said don’t show any emotion.

‘They don’t go easy on me but I always say “just because I’m a girl don’t think anything different of me”.’

Safiyah aged three (Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

During her struggle with eating disorders, Safiyah was bed-ridden. She decided when she got better, she would start boxing.

‘I decided that two years of being ill was enough. I wrote a list of things that I wanted to do with my life like start a YouTube channel and go sky diving.

‘Boxing was on the list and as soon as I felt strong enough I started doing it.

‘I want to show people that mental health problems don’t have to hold you back.’

(Picture: Alex Cousins / SWNS)

Restrictions on wearing a hijab while competing in boxing has been an ongoing issue in boxing affecting female Muslim boxers in the past.

The ban had prevented Amaiya Zafar, an 18-year-old boxer from Minnesota in the United States, from competing at international level.

The ban excluded her from qualifiers for the 2020 Olympics, but the rule change will allow her to attempt to become an Olympian in 2024.

Who knows, Safiyah could even be joining her.

MORE: Wearing a hijab for one day is not the solidarity Muslims need

MORE: ‘Culture suffocates women’: Muslim women talk faith, sexuality, and marriage in It’s Not About the Burqa

MORE: Teen draws nude male and female bodies who are ‘fat, disabled, and different’


Leave a Reply

This website uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you accept our use of cookies.