Egypt’s first MMA fighter blazes path for extra girls

Jan 10, 2021

Egypt’s first feminine blended martial arts (MMA) fighter has damaged social stereotypes by pursuing a male-dominated sport and is now encouraging different girls to comply with go well with.

“I began in 2000 as a karate participant and took the brown belt. Then I joined the Kung Fu nationwide staff and gained competitions with the staff. Once I succeeded within the sport, I made a decision to proceed with them in addition to be part of different related sports activities,” Aya Saeid, 29, instructed Al-Monitor.

Then, Saeid, aka Sheklesa, met captain Mohamed Abdel Hameed who began the MMA sport in Egypt and established the Prime Workforce. “He is a superb mentor and I’ve all the time regarded as much as him. He skilled me till I competed in world competitions,” Saeid stated.

The Prime Workforce is a blended martial arts staff, skilled by Abdel Hameed. Saeid is the one lady within the staff and the primary lady to enter the game in Egypt.

Saeid, who has a husband and a daughter, confronted many challenges as soon as she determined to observe the game, as she was dwelling in an underprivileged and really conservative neighborhood the place she was topic to a lot of criticism.

“They have been telling me that I’m like a person and never a girl. At occasions I bought deeply depressed, however my father all the time supported me and he inspired me to maintain going,” she stated.

Saeid will not be solely an MMA fighter, however she can be a global coach. Three years in the past, she began instructing programs that qualify girls as fighters and coaches.

She additionally taught a number of programs in self-defense to assist ladies defend themselves in opposition to sexual harassment or any sort of violence.

“I don’t solely need to participate and win worldwide competitions, however I additionally need to encourage different girls who’ve a ardour to comply with go well with and arrange the primary [female] MMA staff in Egypt,” she stated.

MMA is a comparatively new sport that began in the US in 1993, and it mixes different kinds of martial arts with all modes of placing and wrestling.

Gloves and a toothpick bo staffs are the 2 permitted instruments for an MMA fighter throughout a match, which consists of three rounds of 5 minutes every with a minute break in between.

The match ends with a knockout, give up or a call by the referee.

“It isn’t a straightforward sport. It is vitally onerous and it wants ardour, however I’ve seen many ladies who’re obsessed with MMA,” Saied stated. “Ladies ought to be given a possibility to enter any subject they like as a result of they will do something so long as they’ve the fervour for it.”

In line with the 2015 International Gender Hole Index, Egypt ranks low in gender fairness in comparison with different nations worldwide. 

The index, which measures disparities between women and men throughout nations, ranked Egypt at 136 out of 145 nations. It reported that girls have considerably decrease participation within the labor drive than males — 26% versus 79%.

“Ladies are nonetheless underrepresented in workplaces generally and sports activities specifically and the rise of their illustration wouldn’t solely profit these girls socially and economically but additionally would profit the state,” stated Randa Fakhr el-Deen, a girls’s rights activist and government director of the Union on Dangerous Practices Towards Ladies.

She instructed Al-Monitor that having these girls preventing for a spot in sports activities and the office would progressively break the social stereotypes and improve girls’s illustration in Egyptian society.

Saeid aspires to have her personal academy the place she will be able to prepare extra girls within the sport and allow them to defend themselves in any scenario of violence or sexual harassment.

A 2017 Thomson Reuters Basis ballot discovered Cairo to be probably the most harmful megacity for girls, and a United Nations’ survey in 2013 discovered that over 99.3% of girls had skilled harassment in Egypt, a rustic the place girls have lengthy felt deprived.

“I would like girls to not solely observe the game but additionally make it a part of their lives as a way of defending themselves in any scenario,” Saied concluded.

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