A World Champion Muay Thai kickboxer has opened up about how she kept her talent for the sport secret from her family for five years.
Ruqsana Begum, a 33-year-old kickboxer from a Bangladeshi Muslim family has spoken about her struggle to balance her faith and culture with the sport she is passionate about and even hide her trophies from family members.
Begum, who was brought up in Essex, is the captain of the British Muay Thai kickboxing team and current British and World Kickboxing Association Muay Thai champion in her weight category. –
In an interview for the Like A Girl Can campaign Begum said: ‘Initially I hid the sport from my family but I realised I was living a double life.
‘I started training and I fell in love with it, it was fast and furious, however, I was afraid that my family would not allow me to pursue this sport which is why I kept it hidden from them. –
She went on to say that she was only 18 at the time and came to realise that ‘very few women’ went to the Muay Thai gym where she trained, let alone ‘Muslim, Bangladeshi, Asian, petite, female’ kick-boxers.
However, she said she started to realise her father might have an inkling about her passion, after seeing one of her trophies he asked her: ‘Why do you walk like a boxer?’.
Leaving Begum ‘petrified’ because she felt an ‘inner conflict whether she was going against what she believed, her tradition, her family values’, something she battled with for several years.
Begum went on to design her own range of sports hijab to help ‘more Muslim women participate in sport’. –