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The photograph shows a young woman with a graceful body and well-toned muscles standing next to a referee, crying. A little earlier, her opponent had taken her hand and raised it above them both. But now it was the referee’s turn to declare her the official winner of the fight, which took place on Sunday, April 14 in western France — and she was unable to hold back her emotions, her face lined with tears.
This is Sadaf Khadem, born in 1995, and she is the first Iranian woman ever to take part in an official boxing match.
Sport - Basketball - Weight - Suggestion - Coaches
The first sport she decided to pursue professionally was basketball, but she was told, at a weight of 107kg, that she was too heavy. At the suggestion of her coaches, she changed sports in order to lose weight. She chose boxing which, in those days, was an illegal and underground sport for women in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“I felt lighter by the week,” she said. “It was as though my body had been set free. And when I got in shape, I did not return to basketball. I felt that I could not let go of boxing.”
Everybody - Managers - Sport - Boxer
It was difficult though. “Everybody was trying to discourage me,” she said. “Even boxing managers told me that this was not my sport and I would not get anywhere as a boxer. But I stood by it and fought.”
In 2016, when Sadaf Khadem had just started boxing, she would go to the Taleghani Park in Tehran where her male trainer would hang a punching bag on a tree so that she could practice. They had to do this because women are not allowed to practice in boxing facilities.“One day they told us that we were no longer allowed to practice in the park because I was...
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