RUQSANA BEGUM training in a mini amphitheatre in the Olympic Park while awaiting the next BIG STAGE
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford
Would you believe there’s a scaled-down amphitheatre in the Olympic Park complete with raised stage and seating area? The government recently announced that outdoor theatres are allowed to open but it’s proved pretty handy for Bethnal Green boxer Ruqsana Begum since lockdown. She’s been using it as her makeshift training area until gyms open again on July 25th.
Ruqsana’s a much decorated martial artist having won British and world titles in Muay Thai – becoming the first Muslim woman to do so. She switched to professional boxing in 2018 signing with heavyweight prospect Joe Joyce’s manager Sam Jones and is now managed by former heavyweight champ David Haye.
Eddie Saint-Jean recently interviewed her about her new training regime for British Boxing News.
She said: “This is my profession and I need to stay sharp – I need this mentally, emotionally and spiritually. When you’ve had this all your life and it comes to a standstill it can be detrimental to your mental health but where there’s a will there’s a way and I have managed to train outdoors in the Olympic Park and I’m enjoying it.“
She has just released her autobiography Born Fighter where she talks about her humble beginnings in Bethnal Green in London’s East End. The East End is famed as the traditional home of boxing – particularly Bethnal Green, which gave us the likes of 18th century boxing pioneer Daniel Mendoza, world flyweight champ Charlie Magri and even the Krays were professional boxers!
Those boxers were unlikely to have had Ruqsana’s experiences as a Muslim woman nervously entering KO Gym in Bethnal Green for the first time and trying to keep her training (and bout bruises) hidden from her disapproving parents. She talks about this in her book and you learn about her other life challenges such as an arranged marriage that ended in divorce and the highs of her Muay Thai triumphs.
Born Fighter – Ruqsana Begum