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Breaking stereotypes: The Bangladeshi-Brit world kickboxing champion

  • Published at 11:39 pm June 24th, 2017
  • Last updated at 11:58 am June 25th, 2017
Breaking stereotypes: The Bangladeshi-Brit world kickboxing champion
Ruqsana Begum, born to a Bangladeshi Muslim family in England, became the British, European and World Muay Thai kickboxing champion. But the road to success was not so easy for the 33-year-old Muslim woman who had to receive training in secret for the fear of a community backlash. Coming from a traditional, religious family she was unable to inform her family members about her passion for years, she even hid her trophies from her family for about five years with a fear of disapproval, reports The Sun UK. At the age of 18, Ruqsana stepped into a gym where she came across Muay Thai and that was it. She fell in love with the combat sport and continued getting trained secretly. Ruqsana, the only Muslim woman who is a national champion in her sport, attained a BA in Architectural Technology. But soon after working in the relevant field for a year, she realized her passion lies in the sports arena. She wrote in her official website: “The reason for keeping my sport secret was that I was I afraid to tell my family who might not approve of such a demanding and male dominated sport coming from a traditional Muslim Bangladeshi background. “I had to break down stereo types and cultural boundaries in order to train and accomplish my goal of being a national champion. “I was training every Sunday in secret, while I was at university, and I would tell my mum that I was going to the gym but they never knew it was a martial arts gym,” she said. “At first my family were concerned, and wanted to know what I was doing, but now they show me every support, and are proud of my achievements – particularly my dad,” she added. Ruqsana told The Sun UK: “I came along to the KO gym and knew, with my family background, that I could not pursue it as a sport and I just had to keep it as a passion or hobby. Ruqsana was born and brought up in Seven Kings, Ilford, Essex, England and is the second child among four. In 2009 Ruqsana was selected for the GB team where she won a bronze medal in the world championship. She became the British atomweight champion in 2010. In 2013 Ruqsana fought for the world title, where she was leading on points but the fight was stopped during the fourth round after she was knocked on the head and the fight got rescheduled. What makes her success story more appealing is despite suffering chronic fatigue illness Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME) which severely limits her training she won her world title when the rescheduled match took place. Ruqsana was named in the British Bangladeshi Power 100 for her work in education, culture and sports in May 2012 and in February 2012 she won a special achievement award at the Canary Wharf Sports Awards. She won the European gold medal from Latvia in 2011 and in 2012 she secured a bronze medal. Ruqsana is currently working as a part time science technician, and she is also taking after-school classes in kickboxing for the kids in her area. In September 2013, Ruqsana was awarded Sports Personality of the Year at the Asian Achievers Awards.