14-year-old Malaika Zahid has won many national-level accolades in her four-year boxing career. However, in order to achieve that, she had to change her guise and become a boy.
Getting a short haircut served her well. Now, people are unable to identify her gender when she is in the ring. Hailing from Quetta, Malaika is the daughter of a Railways Police official and the only female boxer from Balochistan.
She started her training at the age of ten. According to her, it was not an easy decision as a girl. Being the only girl, she had to get her training alongside boys, who were not comfortable training with her. “So, I decided to cut my hair short and look like a boy,” she says.
“I had to change my lifestyle so that the boys perceive me as an equal and nobody says anything snarky about me.” Being the only girl boxer, she has had to fight the boys in the ring many times and has won against them as well.
She goes to a small club adjacent to the Railway Hockey Ground for training. Her coach Ghulam Nabi says that if there are separate facilities and a club, more girls can become boxers.
Malaika has participated in around ten national-level competitions including Mini Olympics and succeeded in all of these. In fact, she remained the best boxer in six of these competitions.
Mailaka says that the same people who used to say boxing is not for girls are now proud of her. “When I began boxing, I faced many problems. Some of them still exist, but my parents have been very supportive. They have told me to face whatever comes in my way.”
She further said that till now, she has only played at the national level. “Now, I want to play at the international level and win a medal for my country. I am also training for the Olympics and hope to win a medal as well.”