MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – More than three years of training lead to a big night for an Oakdale teen.
Last month, Amaiya Zafar was granted permission to compete in a local boxing match, wearing a hijab and covering her arms and legs. It’s something she has fought for for more than three years. During that time, she trained until the day she could fight in the ring.
Ever since, she and her family have petitioned for her to compete.
Zafar, 16, has aspirations to box in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
“She owns her space and she owns her body and it’s incredibly empowering to raise a teenage daughter and to watch her grow into womanhood and take these steps to holding that space. That is hard for women of all ages to do,” said Sarah O’Keefe, Zafar’s mother, who said her daughter trains daily.
There was a large crowd inside of the gym at Richard R. Green Central Park Elementary School in Minneapolis.
Many people came to witness history being made, as Zafar became the first person to wear a hijab while competing in a USA Boxing sanctioned event.
While Zafar did not win the match, she said the night wasn’t about winning.
“It’s not about the outcome it’s that all girls should have a chance. It doesn’t matter if I won or not,” said Zafar, who broke down in tears after the fight, overwhelemed with happiness that she was able to box in her first match.
“It felt like I had a purpose you know? And I look over and my coach says ‘Look at those kids. You’re here for them,'” said Zafar.
“It takes one person to create change,” said O’Keefe.
Zafar is still barred from certain tournaments which she will petitions to compete in. Either way, she plans to get back into the gym to train.
The Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says a new rule is expected to be adopted by USA Boxing’s board of directors in June regarding religious exemptions.