Take Your Hijab Off Or Quit Boxing: This Teen Boxer Chose To Fight | AJ+



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Amaiya Zafar just started her boxing career—and she’s already changing the game.

The day Amaiya was scheduled to fight for the Championship Belt, officials told her to take-off her modest clothing, but Amaiya refused and was disqualified.

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I love boxing and I love my religion. They, they built me. To have somebody try and
take away one of them, like, "You can have one or the other, take your hijab off or quit boxing," I'm like, this is part of me, like, what if they told you, "Shave your head before you get in the ring"? You'd be like, "No!" My dad is an immigrant
and he was a marine. A couple things I learned from my dad: discipline, loyalty, and not giving up. I started boxing when I was 13. My dad took me to a
boxing gym, and when you walked in, you could hear the bell ring, like, "Ding, ding, ding!" People were yelling and
sweating and working out, and I was like, "This is
amazing, I love this!" I started watching videos,
'Throw punches like Mike Tyson,' like, "This is your jab!" My gym is my home, I just, I love working. And my coaches, if they
teach me something, I'm gonna do it, like, a thousand times until I get it perfect. I'm, like, "Let's do this, let's go!" I just love it. 2016, I was like, "I'm ready to fight." So I went to Florida, to
the Sugar Bert tournament, to fight for the championship belt. And everybody there was
super nice, they were like, "I hope you do good,
let me know how you do!" "I'm gonna come watch
your fight tomorrow!" I was so, like, "Ahhh,
it's finally happening!" I was ready. The day I was scheduled to fight, my coaches wrapped my hands, I had my uniform on, I was wearing this. I went to go get my
gloves, and they were like, "No, you gotta take that off." Like, the leggings, and
then the long sleeves. And I was like, "No, I
can't, because my religion", they were like, "No, you can't wear that." And I was like, "I'm not taking it off." She was like, "Take it off or
I'm gonna cross your name." I was like, "Then, cross out my name." She crossed off my name. And they gave the belt to my opponent. All this build-up, and then,
pshh, that's it, it was done. So, I'm sitting there next to my mom, I was, like, on my phone or something, and this girl comes up and
puts the belt in my lap. She was like, "This is yours,
like, I want you to have it." "We didn't get to do
our thing in the ring, and that wasn't fair,
and I stand with you. I got you, like, let's
change this rule together." (cheering and applause) We blew up. Washington Post,
ESPN, National Geographic. [Clip]: "My name is Amaiya Zafar." The girl who gave me the belt, she got the Musial Award for Sportsmanship. [Clip]: (audience applause) And I started doing interviews and just trying to get the story out there so I can get this rule changed. [Clip]: "Amaiya Zafar is
not pulling any punches" "in her fight for her
first official bout." April 2017, my coach called
me, "Are you sitting down?" They told me about the rule changing, and I was like, "Can I fight tomorrow?" [Clip]: "16-year-old
Amaiya Zafar will make" "her ring debut tonight." When I had my first fight, I was like, "This is real", like, "I'm about to get in the ring!" And there was cameras. [Clip]: (audience cheering) After the second round, my coach said, "Look outside the ring." And I'm like, "Huh?" Beause they always told me,
"Don't look outside the ring!" He was like, "Look to your right!" [Clip]: (crowd cheering) I see my sister, I see my dad, I see all my cousins all crying. Then I fought every month after that. [Clip]: "A teenage boxer is
trying to fight her way to" "the highest level of the sport." I just went back to the
Sugar Bert tournament. [Clip]: (cheering) [Clip]: "We are here with Amaiya Zafar." "First of all, congratulations" "on your victory, you just won." I would love to be in the Olympics. Now, there's nothing holding me back from representing Team USA. I'm boxing. This is it. This is what I'm about to do forever.