Rasha al-Khamis, a 28-year-old Saudi woman, has reached new heights with the significant amount of achievements under her belt including becoming the kingdom’s first certified female boxer and climbing two of the seven summits.
What do those two things have in common? The excitement of the challenge. Although al-Khamis hails from a family known for being into culture and the arts being the granddaughter of the late writer Abdullah bin Khamis, her passion for sports, geography and nature took her in this direction.
Khamis told Al Arabiya that she wore her first boxing gloves in 2011 when she was studying at the University of Southern California and that’s when her love for the sport began.
“I joined a boxing club and was training two to three times a week for two years straight,” she said. “I loved the game and I benefited so much from it as it has developed my character and skills like speed and efficiency.”
“Boxing is an amazing sport, and one of the most beautiful sports I’ve played. It instills self-confidence and removes any negative energy while energizing your mind as boxers need to have quick reflexes. It’s also not an expensive sport, but it needs great willpower to be mastered.”
The journey to getting certified
Khamis received her Master’s degree in international and public policy management from California where her thesis focused on female sports facilities in Saudi Arabia.
She pointed out that upon her return from the states to Saudi Arabia, she was at an event that was attended by the president of the Saudi Boxing Federation. She introduced herself and proposed ways to shine light on female boxing.
The federation president replied that they needed female coaches and athletes. Khamis said, “I then joined the Saudi Boxing Federation and camped there for four months to build on my skills and previous experiences. I learned the origins of the sport according to the Cuban school and successfully passed my training. I was awarded with my official boxing trainer certificate soon after.”
She added that she is now spending three weeks training women at the king Saud University. “The training and the excitement of the girls is really exciting. Imagine the number of girls who joined my class are about 160, which is a great amount.”
Khamis said that she holds her classes in the morning following the routine she had in California to show the girls the positive impact of starting their day with playing sports.
“My dream is for a Saudi woman to win a gold medal at the Olympics,” Khamis said.
Early interest in sports
Khamis grew up with sports as a focus in her household. Since she was six-years-old, her father bought a basketball hoop and some gymnastics items in their backyard.
“After my brother and I would finish our homework, we would go outside in the afternoon to play basketball for about an hour and a half, and then another 30 minutes playing gymnastics for five days a week,” she said.
Khamis said her dad encouraged them and taught them the rules of each game. She added that he never differentiated between her and her brother because of her being a girl.
Khamis continued playing basketball in school until she was 14-years-old, and got into other sports as well like football and gymnastics.
She was also a track star at her school winning first place for five years in a row.
Guinness World Record
Making breakthroughs in women’s boxing in the kingdom isn’t the only challenge that Khamis overcame. In 2017, she packed her bags and joined 11 other Saudi women to climb the Atlas Mountains in Morocco. Which they did in a span of four days.
In June of the same year, Khamis earned the Guinness World Record for playing a football match on the highest point to date, which was on Mount Kilimanjaro which is 5,714 meters high.
Khamis broke the record along with 30 other women from various countries for a charitable cause under the name of “Equal Playing Field”.SHOW MORE