On November 20, Amaiya Zafar ? a 16-year-old boxer from Minnesota ? was banned from the ring at the Sugar Bert Boxing National Championships (SBBNC) because she wears a hijab.
As a Muslim, she covers her hair, arms and legs while fighting. Disappointingly, that uniform is considered a “safety issue” by international boxing regulations.
When Amaiya was disqualified, Aliyah Charbonier ? her potential opponent at the SBBNC ? demonstrated true sportsmanship by sharing the victory with her.
“This girl comes up to me then and puts her belt in my lap and says, ‘This is yours. They disqualified you. You’re the true winner. This is unfair,’” said Amaiya. “Then we started hugging each other.”
“I felt really bad for her,” explained Aliyah. “It’s already hard for females to fight, and I don’t know if or when she’ll be able to do it again. They didn’t give her a chance.
In efforts to make things right, Aliyah went to the people in charge of the competition and insisted that Amaiya deserved a championship belt too. In the end, both girls went home with one.
“It was an emotional moment.” reasoned Amaiya. “When she gave it to me, it felt like she was recognizing..how hard I worked and how unfair it is.”
Way to go, girls! Let’s hope the sport evolves to accommodate all athletes, and their religious dress.