Fifteen-year old Amaiya Zafar has found her passion – amateur boxing. And she doesn’t think being a devout Muslim (and female) should stop her – or anybody. However, wearing a hijab during competition is said to be against international boxing rules. “I think the rules are old school,” says Amaiya. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting them changed.”
A few years ago, Amaiya’s father suggested she take up fencing at the local Minneapolis-area gym but her eyes were solely on the boxing ring. Her mother is also supportive of her daughter’s ambition. “When she first trained, I came into this as a mom and a nurse,” O’Keefe-Zafar said. “But she was dedicated and trained for over a year without sparring. And I watched her go from a timid little girl to a confident young person.”
And what happens when Amaiya takes that inevitable hit? “I look at it as something I did wrong defensively,” she says. “I try to learn from it and focus a lot on defense.”
But now she’s on the offense to be able to continue to compete… with her faith firmly intact.