Muslim boxer battles clothing rules for chance to compete
ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - For the last year or so, a 16-year-old boxer from St. Paul has been fighting about what she can wear during a boxing match.
But she recently scored a small victory, without setting foot in a ring.
"The moment I walked into a real boxing gym, I was like this is it. I was gone," Amaiya Zafar said.
Five or six nights a week, you'll find Amaiya working out at the Circle of Discipline Gym in South Minneapolis.
Even though, she's a fighter, her sparring spirit isn't confined to the boxing ring.
"Its a way of saying 'this is my body. I can do whatever I want with it. Its part of me,'" Amaiya said.
As a devout Muslim, Amaiya wears a hijab as well as a long-sleeve shirt and leggings because of her religious beliefs about modesty.
For safety reasons, USA Boxing only allows for a tank top and trunks, so referees can see bruises or injuries that may have happened before or during the fight.
So she's been disqualified from every boxing match she's tried to enter.
"I think the rule is outdated and just like everything else, in time, the rules will catch up but right now it hasn't as of yet," Zafar's coach, Nathaniel Haile said
The weekend before last, Amaiya's coaches took her and two other boxers to the Bert-Sugar National Championships tournament in Florida, in hopes she'd be able to get into the ring.
But when officials called off the fight because of her attire, her opponent Aliyah Charbonier, gave Amaiya her belt because she said Amaiya was the true winner.
"I was overwhelmed. It felt like finally someone is respecting all the work I've put in. It was really cool," Amaiya said.
One day, Aimaya hopes to box in the Olympics. Until then, she'll keep fighting for her dream to come true.
"I want to fight. Its got to change, you know. [I] can't just sit around and wait for it to," Amaiya said.
Amaiya has applied for a waiver from the International Boxing Association to wear her modified outfit in the ring.
So far they haven't heard anything, but they hope to in the next few weeks.