Muay Thai Champion Ruqsana Begum is going for gold
Ruqsana Begum is one of the few Asian women who has broken barriers along with bones to set herself apart from others. Her British Bengali background makes her an unlikely contender, yet she is the current British female Muay Thai Kickboxing Champion; a title she’s claimed since November 2012.
This week she faces one of her toughest challenges yet, she’s heading to Russia for the World Kick Boxing Championships where she hopes to bring home a gold medal to add to her collection which so far includes a gold from the European Muay Thai Clubs’ Cup in 2011 and bronze from the competition in 2009.
Ruqsana grew up in East London, and trains at the KO Gym in Bethnal Green. She didn’t take up the sport until she was 18, but her natural talent, led her to quickly become one of the most successful fighters in the club. After beating all the women in the UK, she now has to train against the men, in order to find someone at her level. And as her coach Bill Judd explains: ‘Not only is she a minority in the sport, she’s a minority in a minority in a minority.’
As well as being a professional fighter, Ruqsana coaches at the charity Fight for Peace, which uses boxing as a prevention and rehabilitation model for children and young people involves in crime, gangs and gun violence. It’s not surprising then to hear that she was also nominated to carry the Olympic flame, earlier this year, one of the biggest honours of her career so far. Recalling the moment, she says : ‘I felt really proud, it was an incredible day!’
Because Ruqsana fights as a certain weight, her own weight is a constant cause of concern and she need to stay within boundaries in order to qualify for specific categories. On top of keeping her diet in check which involves eating grilled foods, proteins, raw and organic foods and having to by-pass her mum’s curries, her exercise regime is equally as intense. She explains: ‘Before big matches professional athletes have to do what we call periodisation which consists of long runs, short sprints, explosive aerobic and anaerobic exercises – it’s tough and totally wears me out, sometimes all I want to do is sleep!’
The other aspect that makes her chosen occupation so hard is the funding. Travelling around the world has its costs attached but sadly as Muay Thai isn’t recognised in Britain as an official sport, there is no support available and everything has to be privately funded, despite the fact she’s representing the country. Ruqsana sums up: ‘I’m hoping the Olympic spirit and government’s commitment to sport will in the future mean that kick boxing is finally recognised – in the meantime I’m going to continue going out there and being the best I can be! And if anyone wishes to help by sponsoring me, please do get in touch!’
Ruqsana Begum is taking part in the World Championships in Russia from 5th-13th September 2012.
Follow her progress on Twitter: BritishMuayThai
by Mahvish Razzaq