In London this summer, there could be more than a few neutrals cheering on Sadaf Rahimi in the Olympic Games.
She’s a boxer, still only 18, and representing her homeland of Afghanistan – quite a combination. And, according to those in the know, she has a few good combos of her own to surprise any unwary challengers.
Sadaf is training not too far away from the host city – she’s in Cardiff, the capital of Wales, and is passionate about the chance to compete in her homeland’s colors.
“When we participate in the outside competitions, there is pressure on us,” Rahimi told AP last month. “But I will try to show that an Afghan girl can enter the ring and achieve a position for Afghanistan. I’m well aware that my opponents in the London 2012 Olympics are more powerful and even twice as good as me, but I have prepared myself to participate and win a medal.”
Back home in Kabul, training facilities for female boxers (not much more than a decade ago, the Taliban prohibited women from doing any kind of sports) were hard to find.
She could practice for just three hours a week in the basement gym in the notorious Ghazi Stadium, which was used by the Taliban for public executions.
Now in Wales, she skips, spars and jabs to her heart’s content.
She started boxing four years ago after watching Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter, dancing around the ring.
Now she’s becoming something of a star herself. Already, along with her older sister who is also a boxer, Sadaf has been the subject of a documentary called the Boxing Girls of Kabul.
Sadaf told the British press that there isn’t a realistic possibility of pursuing a boxing career in her homeland and that she would like to be a journalist. The pen may be mightier than the sword, but it can wait as first is the small matter of the biggest sports tournament in the world.
“I’m very excited,” she says. “I am proud to be in the Olympics and represent Afghanistan, and especially women.”