Muslim Female Boxers Featured In Documentary

Ummah Sports

The narrative of the female who shows strength through fighting — be it at home, in school, at work, in sports or simply day to day in a society that has historically mistreated her — is one that resonates with women (and hopefully men, insha’Allah) across all walks of life.

Whether she lives in the allegedly free and liberated West, or the allegedly oppressive and conservative East, a woman’s figurative battles presented in literal form often inspire powerful pieces of art.

Such is the case with “Ramadan’s Female Boxers,” a short film produced and directed by British journalist Pete Kowalczyk that was released in November 2015:

Ramadan’s female boxers from Pete Kowalczyk on Vimeo.

The documentary follows Saira Tabasum, Naila Kiani and Ambreen Sadiq, three women of Pakistani-British descent who are at different stages of their boxing careers.

Saira is attempting to parlay a successful university boxing stint into victories at a higher level. Naila is an amateur fighter who has moved from the United Kingdom to Dubai in an effort to make female boxing more visible and accepted. Ambreen is a former champion in the UK who is facing what may be the end of her fighting days.

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We meet the three boxers while they are training during Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting which is notoriously hard on athletes who — like millions of Muslims around the world — abstain from food and water during daylight hours for 30 days while focusing on prayer, charity, reading the Quran, and remembrance of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He).

Kowalczyk, who made the film on a budget of less than 500 US dollars, has shown the film at schools and in several communities around the UK. Now his project is going global.

“I wanted to make a film that would dispel some of the misconceptions of Muslim communities in the UK, to try and debunk this idea of ‘the other.’ I think there’s still a fair amount of ignorance and misunderstanding in the UK about our Muslim communities,” Kowalczyk says. “But more than that, this film tries to say, who cares what race, gender or faith you associate with? These girls slay in the ring, and that’s all that matters.”

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7 responses to “Muslim Female Boxers Featured In Documentary”

  1. francis Ayala says:

    I don’t particularly like combative sports, but what I really do like about these women is that they are attempting to fit in to a diversive environment- without trying to look special and different, and without calling attention to their religion (which is personal for each individual on this planet). This is the way to be friendly and inspire love and respect from others. Thumbs up.

    • Amaar says:

      I’d have no problem with them “calling attention” to their religion, if by that you mean wearing hijab or talking about being Muslim. We see boxers, MMA fighters and other combat athletes with all kinds of religious tattoos (crosses, scripture, Jesus, etc.), praying in the ring, giving glory to God in pre- and post-fight interviews, etc. To me it is at least a breath of positivity in a sports where so much is negative.

  2. Rehmat says:

    Laila Muhammad Ali, daughter of the world-renowned American boxing champion Muhammad Ali, is a former professional boxer. She held three world titles. She has appeared in several TV shows and author of her memoir. She recalls her father’s advice on Islamic modesty. “Everything that Allah made valuable in the world is covered and hard to get to. Where do you find diamonds? Deep down in the ground, covered and protected. Where do you find pearls? Deep down at the bottom of the ocean, covered up and protected in a beautiful shell. Where do you find gold? Way down in the mine, covered over with layers and layers of rock. You’ve got to work hard to get to them. Your body is sacred. You’re far more precious than diamonds and pearls, and you should be covered too.”

    • Cass says:

      Ugh. Absolutely hate it when people compare women to pearls, diamonds, candy etc. We are human beings and Muslim women cover cause Allah asked them to, not because their value lies only in them being a “precious pure little flower”and because they are so vulnerable and oh so fragile. Absolutely insulting when people compare women, to inanimate objects with no intelligence and urgency.

  3. Saalakhan says:

    ASA: As a former boxer who retired in protest from the ring three decades ago, as I became more consciously Muslim, I take a dim view to Muslim MEN trying to make a career out of boxing. (In my humble opinion it is a brutal and un-Islamic profession.)
    For a Muslim WOMAN to pursue such a path, for me, is simply heartbreaking!

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