First women's boxing club opens doors in Gaza

New facility means fighters no longer have to train on the beach or in rented spaces

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In Gaza's only boxing club for girls, Farah Abu Al Qomsan, 15, is practising her moves, trading jabs and punches with the other girls training with coach Osama Ayoub.

Since taking to the sport at the age of nine, Farah has found a release from the daily stresses of life in Gaza, where some 2.3 million Palestinians live blockaded by both Israel and Egypt.

“We used to train in a small garage. Now we train according to the full rules and release bad energy,” said the teenager at the territory's first women-only boxing centre.

Mr Ayoub started sox years ago with two girls. As more joined, they moved out of the garage and began training on the beach or in rented spaces before moving into the new Palestine Boxing Centre building.

“The girls are ready. I trained them hard for five years,” said Mr Ayoub. “We are setting an example.”

Now around 40 girls train at the centre, with its full-sized ring, training equipment and posters of well-known boxers such as Mike Tyson on the walls, defying expectations in what has traditionally been a sport for men.

“Some people used to tell me 'Why boxing? What are you going to benefit from it? Go and learn something girlie',” Farah said.

“I benefit a lot from boxing and today my ambition is to represent my Palestinian people and take part in world championships.”

Updated: January 23, 2023, 11:49 AM