Manama: Dona Mohammad Al Ghamdi’s victory in the 2018 International Boxing Championship in Jordan has given a shot in the arm to the drive to give more rights to Saudi women. On Friday, Dona became the first Saudi woman to be crowned at the championship that featured several boxers from different countries. The event was held in Balqa, north of Amman.
Her success at the championship is both an individual achievement for her, and also helps with the empowerment of Saudi women in various fields.
Four years ago, nothing could have prepared Dona for her feat. Weighing 155kg , she did not have the profile of an international sports champion.
She recalled how she started boxing mainly to shed the extra kilos, thinking boxing training would help her slim down faster and better than regular diets.
However, she was not able to achieve the desired results.
On a visit to Jordan, she stayed with her sister, a student at a college there.
There, Dona heard about a physical fitness trainer who could help her reduce her weight and she signed up.
“With time, I learned a lot about fitness and the secrets of fitness boxing,” she was quoted on Sunday by Saudi news site Al Marsad as saying.
“I lost many kilos thanks to the intensive training, and in the course of the training, I developed a passion for the sport. I decided to keep on practising. My trainer, following nine months of assiduous work, encouraged me to go professional.”
A Saudi trainer told Dona he was ready to help her train in Saudi Arabia to become a professional boxer.
“The offer was irresistible and I continued to practice and subsequently won fights and medals. I signed up for pan-Arab competitions and bagged two medals in my first competition. In the second championship, I won a silver medal and in the third, the Arab Boxing Championship, held in Jordan, I won the gold,” she said.
Women’s participation in sports got a boost when the kingdom held its first basketball tournament for women in Jeddah in November.
In October, Saudi Arabia said it would allow women to watch sporting events in the main stadiums in Jeddah, Riyadh and Dammam starting January 1.
In July, the education ministry said female students were to take physical education classes at school.