Ruqsana Begum's account of how she rose to become a Muay Thai world champion is only a small part of why her story is such an inspirational one for anyone who has ever followed their dream.
Ever since she went to school in Bethnal Green, part of a large local Bangladeshi community, Ruqsana Begum stood apart from her friends because she was so keen on sport. At home, she wore the clothes her mother wanted her to wear and behaved like a dutiful Muslim daughter, but at heart she wanted something different. And when she went to college and saw an advert for a Muay Thai club, she knew what that would be. But she also knew that her parents would never allow her to fight - even if they could have afforded the costs. So she fought in secret, and soon discovered that she was a natural. But when her parents arranged her marriage, her new world collapsed and she found herself unable to cope, until she broke free again, and worked her way to the top.
Ruqsana's story is a tale of empowerment that will inspire anyone who has ever had to battle against the odds and against all the opposition to achieve their goal.
Ruqsana Begum became a Muay Thai world champion in 2016, the world's first female Muslim boxing champion. With the reluctant blessing of her parents, she had completed a long journey to the top, battling against prejudice, depression, panic attacks and ME. A role model to many, she was part of the Adidas Here to Create campaign and Karen Millen's #WomenWhoCan campaign.
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