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Caution: Contains themes of an adult nature.
The term ‘inspirational’ can be overused when it comes to describing public figures. But in the case of today’s guest, it couldn’t be more fitting. Ramla Ali is a professional sportswoman who became the first-ever boxer to compete for Somalia in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Her incredible story is told in her new book Not Without A Fight: Ten Steps To Becoming Your Own Champion, and I’m honoured to hear it from her first hand.
Ramla is a former refugee whose family fled from Somalia to Kenya after the civil war. After settling in the UK, she describes a pivotal moment in her teenage years when she was attacked by a group of boys for wearing a hijab. This, together with advice from her GP that she was obese, proved an incentive for Ramla to begin boxing. But it was a secret she kept hidden from her traditional, religious family.
We talk about the range of feelings these events gave rise to, sharing our thoughts on the immigrant experience, and on being the subject of parental disapproval as well as pride. And we discuss Ramla’s journey to the Olympics and how much the African experience differs to that of Western athletes. Until she found sponsorship, modelling helped to pay Ramla’s way in sport. Yet she talks with touching honesty about struggles with confidence, self-esteem and finding her identity as a Somali woman in the public eye.
Today, Ramla’s confidence comes from the knowledge she has achieved all this against the odds – and that her fight helps women and girls of all backgrounds, races and religions to be seen. She’s giving back not just through this platform and as a Unicef Ambassador, but through her Sisters Club, a free boxing club that provides a safe space for women in London to access the sport. Ramla is a true role model and living proof that we can all be our own champions. I really think you are going to enjoy listening.
Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.*
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