Saudi Arabia’s first female boxing trainer defies the Kingdom’s conservative society
In today’s time, women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia conquering positions in different sectors and sports is not an exception. In a country, where sports has generally been viewed as a male dominant field, few women are breaking stereotypes associated with it and are portraying their talents as fitness trainers and athletes at international level sports competitions. Halah Al Hamrani, a 39-year-old Saudi, is one such brave woman who ignores negative responses by living and working as a fitness instructor at her private gym in Jeddah — the one and only female kickboxing and boxing trainer known so far in Saudi Arabia.
“I have always been drawn to martial arts because of the focus and mental strength needed to practice the sport,” says Halah. Her first experience with martial arts was at the age of 12 when she started taking karate lessons in school. Later, Halah was introduced to Japanese Jiu Jitsu through an American couple living in Jeddah. “After studying Jiu Jitsu for four years and teaching it to others for a year, I was able to procure my first-degree black belt,” Halah adds.
Passion for fitness
Even though she had to go to the United States for higher studies, Halah decided to continue taking martial arts classes. “At that point, I was very eager to learn how to throw a proper punch while maintaining the kicks I had previously.
learnt, so I decided to try out Muay Thai,” she adds. Muay Thai is referred as “The Art of the Eight Limbs”, as the hands, shins, elbows and knees are used extensively in this art. Halah is now a professional trainer of boxing, kickboxing, crossfit, calisthenics and movement.
Talking about what gives her the courage to come out as a proud Saudi kick-boxer, Halah says, “I grew up around strong female role models. My parents have always supported my love for sports. Generally, sports is not considered an important part of a woman’s upbringing more so if you are in Saudi Arabia. However, time has changed and women of all ages are more active today. I’m happy they are realising that fitness is a crucial aspect of a healthy lifestyle.”
“I want to show my fellow Saudi women that a career in sports is an attainable and perhaps even a desirable goal. With hard work and perseverance, women can have the same ambitions and can attain the same goals that men strive to achieve in sports,” she signs off.
By: Nadia Al-Amoudi