In the footsteps of Muhammad Ali

By Amaiya Zafar, Engage Minnesota

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Hey! My name is Amaiya Zafar, I am 16 years old, and I am an amateur boxer. I have been training for over two years, and I have a love for boxing that overpowers any hardships that come with the various sport.  My hero is Muhammad Ali and I hope to follow in his footsteps.

There is a rule for amateur boxers that states we must wear the boxing trunks/jersey uniform and nothing more; as a Muslimah, I cover my body to show self-respect and my faith in God. So this, and the fact that there are few girls my age and weight for me to fight is the main reasons I have yet to compete.

In the 2+ years, I’ve pursued boxing; I have faced a lot of adversity. While most support me on this journey, some have opinions that they are eager to share, telling me I should take up baking or sewing rather than taking on a “men’s sport.” Even after being told that I will not be allowed to compete in my Capsters sports hijab and under armor underneath my uniform, I have kept up my training. I train as if I have a fight every day. I work to keep myself at my very best and to keep God first. When the time comes, I will be ready to fight my hardest! I have the support from my coaches, teammates, and my family to keep me going.

From Tiny To Tough

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I shocked myself and the people around me when I decided to take up boxing. I was always very petite, most call me ‘Tiny'(which I’ve never been particularly fond of but am very true). I’m 5’1″ and my weight class is Women’s Flyweight (106-112 lbs.).

It started as a joke, my dad and I were watching a friend’s fencing bout, and he suggested I try fencing as an individual sport that still consists of the teamwork and community. My immediate reaction was, “Uh no! No way will I ever do fencing; I would box before I would fence.” “That stuff is whack; I’m not having someone shove blades at me. I’d rather be punched in the face!” He responded with a laugh,”Alright, I’ll find a boxing gym for you to try out.” And I had no objection.

I started working out in my garage and watching videos for technique. I began to gain strength and a love for the sport. I met a few coaches that I didn’t like before I ended up at the White Bear Boxing Club, months later. There I found an atmosphere of hard work, smart work, and determination. It was the perfect family environment; my little siblings often came to work out with me. I liked the old Rocky style building as much as I loved the people. My first coach was Jose Becerra, who is still the best at mitt work I’ve ever worked with. I trained hard with my teammates and my coach and was ready to spar, but I had sworn to my mom that I wouldn’t fight until she gave me permission. After almost a year of training my hardest and growing as a person, my mom gave me the okay to spar. She saw the positive impact boxing had on me and realized she couldn’t keep me from it fairly.

After training at White Bear for a year, I wanted to find a gym I could train at while Jose needed some time off for his family. I started at a gym that had recently opened in the area, Sir Cerresso Fort Boxing, and Fitness. I was very skeptical at first, this new gym with new punching bags; and shelves instead of the old lockers I was used to. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that the building doesn’t matter, it’s the people around you that make a gym great. I quickly fell in love with this new gym. I love my team, my coaches, and the family environment that I have at Sir Boxing. It’s unlike any other.

I now train at Sir Boxing five days a week and teach classes on the weekends to women and youth. My main coaches are pro boxer ‘Sir’ Cerresso Fort and Jose Becerra. I also train with other coaches and boxers on a regular basis. My skill level has grown so much in the last year, and so has my adoration for the sport.

Can you support me?

  • Gym Memberships (about $100 a month)
  • Private Boxing and Training Fees ($30+ per lesson)
  • Boxing Equipment (boxing gloves, shoes, custom apparel, headgear, Capsters hijabs, etc.)
  • Travel Costs (for sparring and fighting out of state)
  • Tournament Fees

How You Can Help (The Ask/Rewards)

Your contributions, whether they are $10 or $100, will help pave the way to being a champ. Both for myself and the sport of boxing!  Donate here.

Share on your social media platforms! Facebook, Instagram, Twitter! Everything helps! Help me spread the word!

Amaiya Zafar is a rising youth who loves boxing and hopes to follow in the footsteps of Muhammad Ali.  As Eid is approaching consider giving her some financial gift or support as an early Eid gift to brighten her day.  Let us express our love to our youth.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?

If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

About engagemn

A Voice for Minnesotan Muslims

Posted on June 27, 2016, in Engage Minnesota and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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