Afghan Female Boxers Strike A Blow For Girl Power | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

Afghan Female Boxers Strike A Blow For Girl Power

Play associated audio

When Saber Sharifi goes out recruiting girls and young women for his female boxing team in Afghanistan, he encounters a lot of skeptical parents.

"I reassure them that their daughters will not have broken noses on their wedding day," he says with a smile.

Sharifi launched his recruiting campaign in girls' high schools back in 2007. After three months of relentless speeches and presentations, he could only get two girls to sign up.

But he didn't give up. After two more years, he had eight more members on the team.

Today, he has 30 female boxers, and one them, Sadaf Rahimi, will be going to the Summer Olympics in London.

Sharifi still needs to get the approval of the skeptical parents. He promises them he will personally take the girls in his own car to the gym, at Kabul's Ghazi stadium, and bring them back home safely three times a week.

It's still not an easy decision for the parents. It was very difficult, says 19-year-old Shabnam Rahimi, the first Afghan female boxer to bring back a gold medal from a regional championship.

"My dad received death threats because of me two years ago," she says. "The threat was serious, and I had to stop training for a whole month. But our coach came to my father and promised he would personally protect me. My father agreed, and I started training again."

Inspiration To Pursue Dreams

Despite all the risks, Afghanistan's female boxers say they are determined to fight for their rights inside and outside the ring. They say the sport has given them hope to pursue their dreams.

Halima Sadat, 16, says she sees boxing as helping prepare her for a career as a lawyer.

"I want to fight corruption and go after people who take bribes and who violate our rights," she says. "I want to make sure that powerful men don't get away with committing crimes."

The female fighters have few resources and limited space. But they are spirited and determined as they throw punches during this training session.

The only member of the team who has been selected to participate in the Olympics — Sadaf Rahimi — is currently training in China.

For the other young women training in this dimly lit gym in Kabul, Sadaf's participation in London is not just about a quest for Olympic glory. For them, she represents rising female power in Afghanistan.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

How'd A Cartoonist Sell His First Drawing? It Only Took 610 Tries

Tom Toro was a directionless 20-something film school dropout. Then, after an inspired moment at a used book sale, he started submitting drawings to The New Yorker ... and collecting rejection slips.
NPR

Will Environmentalists Fall For Faux Fish Made From Plants?

A handful of chefs and food companies are experimenting with fish-like alternatives to seafood. But the market is still a few steps behind plant-based products for meat and dairy.
NPR

Possible GOP Presidential Candidates Woo Iowa

The 2016 Iowa caucuses are a year away. On Saturday, a long list of potential candidates showed up at a political forum in Des Moines to begin courting the state's most conservative GOP activists.
NPR

Sling TV Could Be Cable-Cutter's Dream

Sling TV launches in a few weeks. That's the new streaming service from Dish that allows viewers to stream content previously only available through cable.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.