The International Boxing Association has announced that female boxers can now wear hijabs
Fight for change
In today's society where we are constantly fighting for inclusivity, equity and tolerance, it seems that we are slowly but surely well on our way — with the International Boxing Association recently announcing that female boxers can now wear hijabs and full-body uniforms for religious reasons. This is a stepping stone to progress and a huge win in the world of sports.
In November 2016, Muslim teen boxer Amaiya Zafar had flown a thousand miles from her hometown to participate in a boxing national championship; only to be told that she had been disqualified as she was in violation of uniform regulations of the International Boxing Association and USA Boxing. This violation was the direct result of wearing extra garment (hijab under the headgear and a shirt and leggings underneath the shorts and top) — which was deemed a safety issue.
In the association's defence, they reasoned that Zafar's clothing materials had the potential to come off and intervene in the competition as they were not specifically designed to fit the body. There was also the argument on the inability to spot pre-existing or possible injuries during the event due to hindered visibility from the extra garment. Things took for a positive turn when Zafar was finally granted exemption and allowed to wear the Hijab in a sanctioned American boxing match — becoming the first amateur Muslim-American to wear a hijab in a boxing arena. While it was a promising change of events, much work was still required to bring this to a world-wide scale.
Thankfully, the battle for equity and religious tolerance is not a one woman's fight. German boxing champion, Zeina Nassar advocated the cause of change to allow herself and other women to don the hijab in the ring. Fast forward to 2019, their hard work has paid off as evidently shown by the recent announcement with Nassar fronting Nike's newest sportswear — the Nike Pro Hijab. Apart from boxing, the Muslim veil can now be worn across other sports like fencing, volleyball, and basketball. Finally, a breakthrough that champions change and inclusion — here's to more of that in the field of sports, and possibly the upcoming Olympics in 2020.