Teenager Amaiya Zafar has won a major battle for Muslim women in boxing earlier this month.
Sixteen-year-old Zafar, who hopes to box at the Olympics in 2020, recently convinced USA Boxing to allow her to compete wearing a hijab, which is a headscarf worn by some Muslim women. She will also be allowed to cover her arms and her legs and keep aligned with her religious beliefs. USA Boxing typically requires athletes to wear a sleeveless jersey and shorts.
But now the Minnesota native can compete for the first time in match this month in Minneapolis, the Star Tribune reported on Friday.
“This is a big step,” said, Nathaniel Haile, her coach. “She’s put a lot of labor into this. She earned the right to showcase her skills, and I’m happy for her. But it’s just the first step in letting her achieve her dreams.”
Zafar has been waiting for this moment for a long time, she said.
“You get so invested,” she said. “My weight is in the right place. My head is in the game.”
Zafar’s battle to win her Olympic dream does not stop here: If she gets a bid to go to Tokyo in 2020 she will still have to persuade the boxing’s international organization AIBA to allow her to enter the ring as well.