i\ll proudly fight for women and afghanistan\
Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
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Last Updated : GMT 09:07:40
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"I'll proudly fight for women and Afghanistan'

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Egypt Today, egypt today "I'll proudly fight for women and Afghanistan'

Kabul - Arabstoday

If it's unusual to see a woman representing Afghanistan at the Olympic Games, her choice of sport is even more surprising. Sadaf Rahimi – the only female member of the national team, and only the third female Olympic athlete to represent the country – is a boxer. Now 18, her early childhood years were at a time when women were banned from playing sport under the Taliban. She now trains at the Ghazi stadium in Kabul, where the old regime would stage public executions. Rahimi started boxing four years ago after seeing Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali's daughter and a former professional boxer, fighting. "It made me realise a woman can do this," Rahimi says through an interpreter by phone from Cardiff University, where she has been training for the past few weeks. In Afghanistan, she says, not everybody approves of women's boxing. "Many people think girls should stay at home. My aunt was not happy at all that her niece should be doing this sport." Her older sister Shabnam is also a boxer – both girls featured in the documentary The Boxing Girls of Kabul – and her parents, she says, "are really supportive". Her father, however, has been threatened because he allows his daughter to box. "Some people are not happy that I do this type of sport. They look at me badly," she says. Last week, Afghanistan's president backed a "code of conduct" for women, issued by clerics, which includes encouraging segregation and allowing men to beat their wives. There are fears that the gains women have made since 2001 will be put back in negotiations for peace. Rahimi has seen things improve for women in the last few years but, she says, "peace will create the platform to get equal rights. The only thing that would give me hope is peace." Wearing boxing clothes that cover her arms and legs, Rahimi trains just three days a week for an hour at the stadium, where security is provided, but continues her training at home. The women's boxing team was established by the Co-operation for Peace and Unity in 2007, set up to encourage girls and women to get involved in sport under its Fight for Peace project, and has been funded by the charity and by Oxfam. "We don't have many facilities," Rahimi says. "Boxing in our country is not big enough to be a future career." She wants to be a journalist and hopes to go to university after the Olympics. In May, she will fight in a competition in China, then at London 2012, where she has a wild card entry. "I am very excited," she says. "I am proud to be in the Olympics and represent Afghanistan, and especially women."

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i\ll proudly fight for women and afghanistan\ i\ll proudly fight for women and afghanistan\



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