As if boxing weren’t tough enough.
In a very conservative and rather traditional society and country like Afghanistan it’s not only the physical training aspect of Western boxing that makes it a challenge.
It can be more than just a challenge. At times it can be even life-threatening if you are an Afghan female and striving to become the best boxer you can be.
A group of Afghan girls and women doing just that are simply known as the ‘Burqa Boxers’.
The burqa is the outer clothing worn by women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies in public places and yes, that would include countries such as Afghanistan.
Well, the girls and women we’re talking about today are certainly respecting that part of it all, even or especially while training.
However, even within their own families some of these female boxers are experiencing harsh criticism to say the least.
At times they have received extreme threats that prevent them from training, as in the view of their critics in their home country of Afghanistan the boxers are not complying with Islamic law and traditions.
To me these boxers and coaches appear to be very dedicated and most of their friends and families to be supportive of their pursuit to be the best that they can be.
Chilling memories become all too real, when you think of them training at Kabul’s Ghazni stadium where years ago the Taliban would execute women.
At this same place, 17-year old Olympic hopeful for this year’s London games Sadaf Rahimi trains among dusty floors, broken mirrors and hardly lit hallways.
It didn’t surprise me when I heard that there is a lack of appropriate training equipment. They don’t even seem to have a boxing ring.
And yet Rahimi and her peers are determined to continue to float like a butterflies and sting like a bees.