• Photo: Ahktar Soomro / Reuters (Reuters)Source: Reuters
Defying threats and cultural norms, a group of girls in Pakistan are fighting for their own futures
By
Ann Odong

26 Mar 2016 - 1:57 PM  UPDATED 26 Mar 2016 - 1:59 PM

Women's boxing has always been a controversial sport.  

Love it or hate it, women have been boxing since the early 18th century but it took until London 2012 for the sport to be included in the Olympic Games.  

In southern Pakistan, it is taking hold and a young group of girls are not only pushing gender boundaries but cultural ones with the first female boxing camp.  

Get in formation

Coach Yunus Qambrani and assistant coach Nadir set up the first ever women's boxing coaching camp in Karachi for girls of all ages.

 

Punch like a girl

Qambrani is training girls about a dozen girls aged 8 to 17, including 17-year-old daughter Anum Qambrani, dozen girls at Pak Shaheen Boxing Club.

 

Age no barrier

Arisha, 9, is one of the youngest training with Qambrani as part of the new trend of female boxers.  Boxing is relatively new to Pakistan with 2015 the first time Pakistani women competed in the South Asian Games. 

 

School's out

As well as boxing Tabia, 12, also attends school during the week, before practicing her jabs, hooks and foot pivots after school.  

 

Being their own heroes

"Last year a girl came to me, asking why girls couldn't train. I was moved when she said, 'No one teaches us how to defend ourselves.'"

Misbah, 17, was one of the many girls excited to pick up the gloves.

 

This girl can

Tabia, left, 12, fights against Aamna, 11, during a bout at the training camp.  

In boxing and attending school, the girls face Taliban threats and also violence from family members in the conservative Muslim country.

 

Owning their future

For the Qambrani’s it is a family affair with Urooj, 15, aiming high. 

Like many of the girls, it is more than just about sport. "I have been training since I was a child," she said. "Inshallah, I will become an international boxer. ... I will make Pakistan's name famous."