The first two female boxers to compete on Saudi soil want to inspire young girls around the world to take up the gloves themselves, they told Al Arabiya English on Wednesday.
British-Somali fighter Ramla Ali will face off against the Dominican Republic’s Crystal Garcia Nova at the Rage on the Red Sea boxing event in Jeddah on Saturday.
“It’s a huge honor,” Ali said on the sidelines of a press conference. “Myself and my opponent will be inspiring loads of young girls and loads of women, not only in this country, but all over the world.”
Speaking through an interpreter, Nova said she was “blessed” to be in Saudi Arabia and have the opportunity to take part in the first women’s boxing match in the Kingdom.
“It’s a message to all young women that boxing is not only for men, boxing is also for women. And I can go far. And if I can go far, everybody, all the women in the world can learn boxing and can go far and go up in this game.”
Authorities in the Kingdom have traditionally placed restrictions on women’s participation in sports.
However, recent years have seen unprecedented progress in women’s rights, both in sports and in everyday life.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Vision 2030 plan spurred on development of sports in Saudi Arabia, allowing physical education to be taught to girls in school for the first time.
Major titles including the Formula One Grand Prix, the Saudi Cup horse race, and WWE professional wrestling events are among many to have been held in the Kingdom in recent years.
Heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk will defend his title against the man he won it from, Anthony Joshua, at Jeddah’s King Abdullah Sports City on Saturday.
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