Nisar Ahmed, who was passionate about sports but was forced to give up his dreams due to financial constraints, now follows his passion vicariously through his four daughters.
Ahmed is a clerk at a government office. His daughters are working to make a name for themselves as young boxers in Karachi’s Lyari neighborhood.
“When I see my children, I feel like I am watching myself,” Ahmed told Arab News at his Lyari residence, where punching bags were fixed to the ceiling and boxing gloves were scattered all over the floor. “It is like I am living my childhood again.”
Ahmed’s 23-year-old daughter Nimra is already a professional fighter in the atomweight category. “There is an Indian movie in which [actor] Amir Khan gives his daughters rigorous training to become wrestlers,” she told Arab News. “My father is a real-life hero in the same way since he has taught us to be strong and face the world.”
Nimra is currently preparing to fight Denise Castle, the current atomweight world champion, for the World Boxing Council (WBC) international title in Dubai next month. Currently, at number 11 in Asia, she is hopeful of winning the competition and aspires to qualify for the world title.
A proud father
Ahmed said it was not easy for his daughters to reach this stage. He faced significant opposition from family and friends when he started training them. Even his wife resisted the idea since she thought it would change the girls’ physical appearance.
“Boxing did not do anything to my girls’ faces. If anything, they look healthier and more beautiful now,” said a smiling Ahmed. “God has given them beauty, courage, and honor. They have confidence and they can face any hardship in the world. I am proud of them.”
Ahmed’s eldest daughter Bakhtawar is the first female ringmaster featured in the Pakistan Super League (PSL) “Hamaray Heroes” category this year, while his other daughters, Asia and Mahnoor, are amateur boxers also.
Fighting against the stereotypes
Adversity paved the way for each of the four girls to reach where they are today. There would be taunts and complaints directed at their mother, who was already against their becoming boxers.
“When we would go to the ground for running or a fight, the neighborhood women, sitting in the street, would get annoyed upon seeing us and complain to our mother that ‘why don’t you ask their father, why is he making his daughters do this, playing such a game’,” Nimra said.
“In our society, girls are not considered capable enough and people think they have to do nothing in future but get married,” she said. “Our father not only gave us a good education but also introduced us to a sport like boxing.”
Nimra said people thought boxing was a difficult sport for girls as they were considered “weak.”
“Our father supported us and trained us. He enabled us to play at the national and international levels and proved the people wrong who would say that we are girls and we will be defeated.”
Now, Nimra said, even people who had opposed the sisters earlier had started praising them. The cherry on top for the girls, she said, was the sense of pride and achievement felt by their father.
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