Can you imagine yourself being fifteen years old and a national boxing champion, having to fight all the time? This is what happened to Ambreen Sadiq. As the first female Muslim boxer of Britain, she didn’t only have to fight in the boxing ring: it extended to her daily life where she had to deal with many prejudices. Luckily, her parents and siblings were very supportive. In fact, her brother and father helped her a great deal start a boxing career.
Being a female boxer can be hard, being one of the few girls in a men’s world. Ambreen Sadiq got many hateful comments about her being a boxer. In The Telegraph she says that at school people were calling her a transsexual, because she was doing a man’s sport and she had muscles like a man. “I got bullied quite a bit.” But the disapprovement wasn’t only coming from her fellow students, her aunts and uncles were not happy with her new sport either. Even neighbors and people of the mosque kept asking her parents why they let her box. After her sister made her a Facebook fanpage, Sadiq even got death threats.
Still, Sadiq doesn’t think religion is the reason why people dislike her hobby. “A lot of Muslim people say it’s about religion,” she says. “But I think it’s more about the culture and how people have been brought up. Men and women are treated equally [in the religion]. In this culture, it’s like the women should be at home cooking tea. The men put the food on the table.” Being the first woman in her environment doing a sport like boxing was probably a bit of a shock. It looked like a reminder that women are able to do something different than being a housewife that stays home all day.
Ambreen Sadiq’s story was so inspiring there even was a play about it at the Edinburgh Festival last summer. With her story, Sadiq gives a clear message to every woman out there, including Muslim woman who have to deal with even more barriers. “With anything you do, there are going to be people that are negative and don’t like it. You have to decide: do you want to do what you love, or do you want to please other people? Don’t let anyone get in the way of your dream no matter who it is.”