A Palestinian girl takes part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City

Girls storm the boxing ring in Gaza gym

Family and friends cheer them on as they begin landing punches in Palestinian enclave's first female-only boxing tournament, with hopes of taking top contenders to regional competition in Kuwait

AFP |
Published: 11.22.20, 21:00
The bell rings in a gloomy basement in the Gaza Strip and two teenage girls wearing headgear and gloves start circling each other in the ring.
  • Follow Ynetnews on Facebook and Twitter

  • Family and friends cheer them on as they begin landing punches in the first female-only boxing tournament in the Palestinian enclave.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    A Palestinian girl takes part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City
    A Palestinian girl takes part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City
    A Palestinian girl takes part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    The thunderous voice of the commentator drowns out the small crowd that has defied the coronavirus pandemic to come and watch.
    One of the young fighters, Farah Abu al-Qomsan, 15, says she had long followed boxing online before switching from the screen to the ropes.
    "I used to watch boxers like Mike Tyson and Muhammad Ali, I love watching them fight," she enthused.
    "They are really good and often win their fights in the first round."
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Gaza city center with Hamas monument
    Gaza city center with Hamas monument
    Downtown Gaza City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Girls and women competed according to their weight categories at the tournament last Friday.
    "Many people think what we are doing is wrong, that we are acting in defiance of morals and traditions," said one fighter, Rita Abu Rahma, 20.
    "But for me, my family and friends, it is all normal, and they all support me."
    "Boxing doesn't take anything away from my femininity, from being a woman," said Abu Rahma, sporting long brown hair.
    "Boys and girls have the right to practice the sport of their choice."

    A first in Palestine

    The Gaza Strip is a densely populated Palestinian coastal territory of two million people, ruled for more than a decade by Islamist movement Hamas.
    Subject to an Israeli and Egyptian blockade, it has a flagging economy and a jobless rate of around 50%, rising to 65% among young people.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Palestinian girls take part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City
    Palestinian girls take part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City
    Palestinian girls take part in a rare boxing championship in Gaza City
    (Photo: Reuters)
    "We are an Olympic boxing club, but we don't have the resources" to provide gloves and headgear for all, said coach Oussama Ayoub, 35.
    He said he was proud of organizing the tournament despite being cash-strapped, and hopes to soon be able to take the boxers out of Gaza for regional competitions.
    "This is a first in Palestine, a women's boxing tournament," he said.
    "We had 45 competitors today and the best will qualify" to represent the Palestinians at a championship in Kuwait in February, he said.
    4 צפייה בגלריה
    Gaza security men in protective gear outside local hospital
    Gaza security men in protective gear outside local hospital
    Gaza security forces in protective gear outside a local hospital
    (Photo: AP)
    He expressed hope that Israel would let the athletes pass through the Erez crossing so they could travel to the Gulf state.
    The team also hopes the pandemic will abate before then.
    Having long been spared a large coronavirus caseload, the isolated enclave has been hit hard in recent weeks, recording 891 new cases on Saturday alone.

    Talkbacks for this article 0