35-year-old widow Haleema Abdul Aziz is smashing taboos as she boxes and trains together with her own 19-year-old daughter Razia Banu. Mother-Daughter Boxing Duo bout at Pak Shaheen Boxing Club in Lyari, Karachi’s most restive and sporty neighborhood.
Banu was drawn into the ring last year, after watching the grand funeral of legendary boxer, Mohammad Ali. He was “my favorite personality”, she told AFP after “losing” to her mother, pointing with a smile to a small framed poster hung on a pillar that read Ali’s famous “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee”.
Banu joined the Boxing club, started just last year, the first for women in all of Pakistan.
For the country which is still very conservative, which obstructs the women from prospering in new dimensions, where acid attacks and honor killings are still very prevalent Banu is fulfilling her dreams with the help of her mother.
It is to be noticed that Mother-Daughter Boxing Duo is from a poor background and even struggle to have meagre earnings. Banu told AFP that, “Males think that they are strong so they could beat females and force them to be confined to the home, but I think that when you have the strength, you should provide safety to people instead of beating them.”
Banu is iconic and is exemplary for other women to follow her footsteps and break the taboos associated with them. She leaves home early every morning for her job as a receptionist in a school, before going on to college, where she studies commerce, She reaches the boxing club in the evenings.
There she drills: punching bags and balloons, skipping rope, then practice bouts. Pakistan has no infrastructure of sports for women; there is the scarcity of clubs and grounds for ladies.
Banu’s club is no exception, it has the ring, three punching bags, and a boxing balloon in a corner, there is no proper changing room for the girls, and there is no right rubber mounting on the ring ropes.
Civil society has to rethink their norms. Sports is never placed as preferences by any government, If not of international standard, they should provide women with standard facilities.
Sports is necessary for the nation to prosper, and women are no exception in that.
Sports not only will make our women healthy but also a time will come when they will be able to earn us gold in Olympics.