Halah Alhamrani, Saudi female boxer: "I still find families who believe that sports are not necessary for a woman"

The well-known boxer, advisor to the Saudi Olympic Committee and proprietor of one of many first girls’s gyms in Arabia, speaks to EL MUNDO earlier than the Tremendous Cup

Halah Alhamrani.

halah alhamrani He has been watching girls break down boundaries since he was born. Her mom, an American, fell in love with a Saudi and put down roots in a land that then provided few alternatives for ladies. Halah, in contrast to all the ladies of his era, was fortunate sufficient to go to a personal faculty the place martial arts akin to karate or taekwondo have been practiced. It was throughout her college years in the USA that she fell in love with kickboxing and boxing and, upon her return to Saudi Arabia, she started to put it on the market amongst girls. First, she needed to do it within the backyard of her dad and mom’ home, as a result of girls’s gyms weren’t allowed. She later created Flagboxing, the primary girls’s sports activities middle in Jeddah. The identify is an acronym that comprises fairly a press release: Struggle Like a Woman (FLAG).

Your health club was one of many first to open in Arabia, has your instance unfold?
It was the primary the place boxing was practiced and possibly one of many first for ladies generally. For the previous 4 years there was a growth in gyms run by girls and for ladies, however nearly none for boxing.
After years away from sport, has the mentality of girls modified?
Usually talking, girls do have extra curiosity in doing sports activities or health, however they nonetheless do it from an aesthetic perspective relatively than as a wholesome behavior of their life. They ask how they will tone their arms, legs, shed pounds. It’s not but seen as one thing that they need to incorporate into their lives, however we’re transferring in that course.
Do they worth boxing and martial arts?
I believe they’re starting to find what pursuits them, as a result of, till now, they haven’t had the likelihood to take action. In sports activities facilities now they’ve many choices to select from, from attempting spinning one month, to boxing the following. The Saudis had no concept what they may very well be captivated with and that is how they will resolve.
And the way is it seen from essentially the most conservative sectors of society that ladies field or do martial arts?
From my expertise, you continue to discover households who suppose in a really conservative method and who imagine that it isn’t obligatory for a lady to follow sports activities or health. I see that occur generally in my sport. It’s not straightforward to suppose {that a} girl generally is a chief or take part in worldwide competitions. I’ve had households who haven’t agreed to her daughter persevering with to field, maybe as a result of they thought she was empowering herself an excessive amount of, which I nonetheless discover unusual. I believe it is extra about them worrying as a result of they suppose they’re enjoying an aggressive sport. I’ve had college students cease coaching as a result of their dad and mom weren’t blissful and stopped paying for his or her courses. It saddens me, however I believe that may change over time.
Halah Alhamrani, during a training session.
Halah Alhamrani, throughout a coaching session.

How has the Authorities’s Imaginative and prescient 2030 program helped girls to follow extra sports activities, particularly aggressive ones?
Clearly, it tries to make sport extra accessible to the final inhabitants and there have been many modifications, particularly in the best way of elevating consciousness in regards to the significance of sport for well being.
Once I returned to Arabia, I discovered no boxing trainers or feminine opponents. has that modified?
Then it was inconceivable, now we nonetheless have an absence of coaches for ladies in martial arts and fight sports activities. However that has begun to endure small modifications on account of wanting to achieve success in competitions. The federal government and the completely different federations are doing all the things doable so that ladies can compete and that’s creating consciousness. Earlier than, no man educated girls, and if any did, he was not a Saudi.
Do you suppose that the nation’s dedication to attracting main sporting occasions helps to strengthen grassroots girls’s sports activities?
I believe that, to a sure extent, the truth that completely different worldwide occasions are held in Saudi Arabia makes girls keen on doing sports activities. Just lately a girls’s boxing competitors was scheduled that gave them an concept that it may be an thrilling sport, that it’s doable for them to follow it. For years I’ve been attempting to signify girls athletes and ship a transparent message that there’s nothing fallacious with girls practising and competing, however I believe it has now helped that the federal government does too. That encourages and accepts girls who do sports activities, as a result of it is rather optimistic.