MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Minnesota teen made history on Saturday night when she fought a competitive boxing match while wearing her hijab.
Amaiya Zafar, 16, has been boxing for almost four years, but Saturday was her first competitive bout, held at Richard Green Central Gym in Minneapolis.
Zafar fought to change USA Boxing’s rules dictating competitors could not cover their hair or wear long sleeves.
“I felt like I had a purpose, you know,” Zafar said after the match.
The 10-minute match was full of ups and downs for Zafar, who eventually lost to opponent Isabella Hendrickson.
The history-making match was the first time USA Boxing allowed a competitor to cover their arms and legs and wear a hijab, something Zafar feels is important out of respect for her faith.
It was not the outcome Zafar hoped for, but she was overcome with emotion and gratitude after the match as hundreds of supporters cheered for her.
“I got my chance and that’s what matters,” Zafar said. “I’m doing this for other kids.”
Zafar said she hopes to get more chances to compete soon and that others will be inspired by her story and keep fighting for what they believe in.
“Don’t let arbitrary rules stop you from something that you love,” Zafar said.
USA Boxing has said it is looking over some of its domestic uniform rules.
The exemption granted earlier this month for Zafar is only for local matches.
Zafar hopes to challenge the international rules as well.