[VIDEO] Meet Malaika Zahid, the ambitious girl who chopped off her hair to become a boxer
Malaika grew up in Baluchistan, a region of bone-dry desert and barren hills, where women's lives are highly restricted.
When 15-year-old Malaika Zahid decided to become a boxer, the only option she initially had was to join a boys training club. She wanted to become one of Pakistan’s top players, and she did not let anything stand in her way. She soon chopped off her hair.
Malaika grew up in Baluchistan, a region of bone-dry desert and barren hills, where women’s lives are highly restricted. However, that has never stopped her journey.
While speaking to Arab News, the 15-year-old said, “I began my boxing career from a boys club where I was the only girl training along with boys, but it never stopped me from following my passion. I have knocked out many boys during the club matches.”
She added, “I wanted to cut my hair, but it was my own decision, and my father supported me.”
Malaika ascribes much of her success to her unconventional father, Muhammad Zahid, a police constable in the Pakistan Railways Police. Ever since she was 10-years-old and first entered a boxing ring, her father’s support helped her become a pioneer of women’s boxing in Baluchistan.
Malaika, who hails from Quetta city, has already won four golds in the lightweight category in interprovincial boxing championships and a silver medal during the National Games in Peshawar. She defended her first major title at the young age of 12 at a boxing tournament for girls in Karachi.
Speaking about what inspired her to become a boxer, she said, “The inspiration to become a boxer came from watching a fight by the British Pakistani boxing star Amir Khan, a former unified light-welterweight world champion.
“When I was a kid, I used to go to sports grounds with my father and started playing football and climbing walls,” the boxer said. “One day, I was watching a boxing match of the international boxing player, Amir Khan, which motivated me, and I requested my father that I wanted to become a boxing player.”
This year, Malaika was awarded the Baluchistan Star Award by the Balochistan Youth Department. Though excited by the recognition, the boxer said more needed to be done by the government to promote athletes in her home province.
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