“I hope I am a symbol of change"
England’s first hijab-wearing boxing coach looks to bring equality across the sporting industry.
Based in Smethwick, Birmingham, Haseebah Abdullah was recognised as a ‘Hometown Hero’ by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games for her “huge role in making the sport more inclusive”.
Her goal now is to bring equality across the entire sporting industry.
Haseebah began training at Windmill Boxing Gym as a young girl alongside her four older brothers.
She has gone on to become one of the gym’s most respected coaches.
Haseebah boxed at an amateur boxing club, however, she was unable to take part in competitive bouts because dress code rules did not allow for the hijab.
The boxing coach played a huge role as she helped change official dress code rules.
Women are now allowed to wear hijabs and full-length clothing when training or competing.
Her recognition by the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games has given Haseebah hope that she can work to change dress codes across the sporting world.
Haseebah said: “I hope I am a symbol of change and equality across sports.
“I hope that I am a good representation for young British-Pakistani women and for women in general.
“Growing as a coach is what I wish to do, to provide the best guidance and support for the athletes I work with.
“I hope I can be a driving force in changing the attitudes and impressions people have of (boxing).”
She went on to say that many young women in her hometown are now considering boxing as a professional career, adding:
“No one should be judged or scored on their outer appearance, but solely on their athletic performance.”
The same applies to gender, as Haseebah said:
“People still have this idea that it (boxing) is a sport solely for men and see it as an aggressive sport and fear injury.
“The sport is for all and only boxers who are well trained and fit for competition should take part in the bouts, regardless of gender.”
Haseebah also hopes that she will be able to take her coaching career to the next level and gain international experience, including in Pakistan where family members still live.
“I hope to progress as a coach by taking my level three coaching course and trying to get some international experience too.
“This may even involve some experience and opportunities in my motherland, Pakistan.”