Hyderabad: Burqa-clad women are the heroes in this boxing academy

Hyderabad: Considered to be one of the academy’s finest students, Amena (name changed) makes it a point to train at least for three hours a day. A burqa-clad woman, she resolved to break the shackles of the oppression that is often wrongly associated with the piece of clothing. She is 39-year-old and one of the fifteen women in this boxing school between the ages of 35-50.

Surprisingly enough, both Amena and her 15-year-old son Uzair train together. “The duo gives each other a good fight in the boxing ring,” said their coach Shaikh Aijaz Ahmed.

A national-level gold medalist himself, Aijaz Ahmed set up Golconda Boxing Academy in 2002 at Owaisi playground, Golconda and has been giving free coaching to all. “I believe that women must train for boxing, as it is best for self-defence. I am glad that more women are willing to learn boxing at my academy,” he said.

As many as 150 students are enrolled in the academy as of now. Of them, there are children, young girls and married women.

35-year-old Naseema Begum believes ‘hijab’ is not an excuse to quit learning new things. “It is all about dedication and enthusiasm for learning and productivity,” Begum says. “Even if we don’t participate in any tournaments, it at least keeps us healthy and fit,” said 41-year-old Najma Sultana, who trains with her 6-year-old granddaughter.

Many women prefer to take these classes as a break from their routine and also because the classes are given for free.

Young girls between the ages of 13 – 20, seen in a headscarf, give a tough fight to the boys. Many of them are very keen on taking boxing as their career ahead too. One of them is Afsha Shah, a 14-year-old, who is already making a mark. She took part in the national and state-level games and won prizes. “At times these girls give a tough time to me as well,” Ahmed laughs, saying it also builds their character.

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It was Ahmed’s grandfather Subedar Major Shaik Ahmed inspired him to continue the tradition. “My grandfather dreamt of these changes in the community. He was a great boxer and even served the Army. My father Shaik Abdul Gani, participated in national-level tournaments before he retired from the army in 1980. He set up this Golconda Boxing Association in 1990,” Ahmed added.