By A Comeaux
While all eyes are on British boxing sensation Anthony Joshua, a female boxing star is also coming into her own.
It was a regular evening after work, school and Minneapolis traffic.
I was low-key exhausted but a mother’s work is never done.
There was boxing training tonight and my baby was ready to hit the bags so there was no getting out of it even if I tried. The gym is a quaint one on the south-side of the city; you’d miss it if you weren’t hip to what’s behind the garage door.
Circle of Discipline is where legends are made and my young king just wanted to train with the big dogs. I took my seat, put in my earplugs and begin to tap away at my laptop in my usual stance of being there for support but not being ‘that’ mom hovering over their baby boy.
A woman, with a kind-tone and a warm smile began to talk to me. I hadn’t realized she’d taken a seat next to me as my head was down as I typed away, getting my words out amidst the loud but censored hip-hop in the background.
I was focused-and so was she.
When we began chatting, we shared mostly pleasantries and the perfunctory ‘which one is yours’ as we gazed at the plethora of bodies from little tikes to seasoned trainers and decorated boxers intermingled all as a family.
That’s what it feels like in COD, like you’re at your cool uncle’s house who has friends over often talking about his glory days in the ring while teaching you moves to land a solid punch.
It wasn’t long before I saw who she was here for, her daughter, a young tender-faced beauty you’d never suspect was a boxing hopeful, undaunted in her quest.
Amaiya Zafar is Muslim, donned in her hijab, long sleeves, legs covered, and she will box professionally. At this time, a couple years ago, that wasn’t an option.
Hijabs and covered bodies weren’t allowed in USA Boxing.
Like me, her mother has sat in every gym her precious daughter trained in, just for security.
Today, Amaiya is the sweetheart of COD, well trained for battle and trains sans mom because every boxer and trainer protects her like she’s one of their own because, well, she is.
This is a testament of tenacity, endurance and preparation despite regulatory stipulations.
Would you train daily for a position you never knew you’d be allowed to play?
That alone told me there was something special about her.
Boxing of all things, to break into as a female athlete but to challenge the federation with such a proclamation for one’s beliefs intrigued me.
I thought, good for her and kudos to her parents for their unyielding support. Fast forward to my last encounter with Amaiya, she tickled me with her candor at immediate glance. ‘Where’d you get your shirt?’ she’d asked referring to my very basic but extremely suitable black turtle neck of my now faithful all black everything everyday season.
I responded, partly curious but totally impressed she’d guessed the right store because she too buys multiples of things she likes.
We exchanged fashion tips and our love for signature pieces. She boxes and can spot good cotton across the room. When asked why her beliefs were important to stand on publicly when other Muslim boxers obliged standards, she told me, “On a personal level it’s important to me to stand firm on my beliefs. Why would I let go of such a big part of my identity because someone wrote an arbitrary rule so many years ago?”
Well alright queen! Let us all take a note from her by never accepting No and working for our goals daily. The ceiling will be broken with that fire in her belly and the machine that is COD behind her with her family rooting her to victory.
She earned it and now her first fight is at her feet. What a transformation and win before she even steps in. She’s making HERstory just by living her truth.
I’m A Comeaux and while I’m no fighter, trust, I throw my dukes up in solidarity to watch Amaiya Zafar’s destiny realized.
Video and photo via .