Muslim teen wears hijab in first competitive boxing match (video)

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MINNEAPOLIS – After a three-year battle, a Minnesota teen is allowed to compete in a USA Boxing sanctioned event, wearing a hijab and covering her arms, legs, and hair.

Amaiya Zafar, 16, reportedly made history last Saturday for being the first competitor granted permission to cover herself due to her Muslim faith.

“She owns her space and she owns her body and it’s incredibly empowering to raise a teenage daughter and to watch her grow into womanhood and take these steps to holding that space. That is hard for women of all ages to do,” said Sarah O’Keefe, Zafar’s mother.

Several spectators showed up to the Richard R. Green Central Park Elementary School to watch Zafar, who lost the 10-minute match, but claimed she felt victorious to be able to live out her dream of boxing competitively.

“It’s not about the outcome it’s that all girls should have a chance. It doesn’t matter if I won or not,” said Zafar, who was emotionally overcome by the whole experience. “It felt like I had a purpose you know? And I look over and my coach says ‘Look at those kids. You’re here for them,'” said Zafar.

“It takes one person to create change,” said her mother.

Zafar plans to continue her rigorous training schedule and has her sights set on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

While she is remains banned from participating in other tournaments, she will petition for exemptions to the uniform rules and hopes to one day compete in them, reports KARE 11.

“Don’t let arbitrary rules stop you from something that you love,” Zafar said.

The Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations says a new rule is expected to be adopted by USA Boxing’s board of directors in June regarding religious exemptions.

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