Woman trains men to box in the heart of Egyptian agriculture
Twice a week in a small gym in the Egyptian town of Beni Suef, 36-year-old Sabah Saqr trains young men and boys to box.
A woman coaching men may not be so unusual in the capital, but in Beni Suef, which is 100 kilometers (60 miles) south of Cairo in an agricultural area, tradition often limits the role of women.
“I started boxing by accident,” said Saqr, who was spotted by a trainer impressed with his strength and energy. “I didn’t like it before because I was worried about my face being hit.”
Still, Saqr started to do well, winning multiple championships and over 10 medals before starting coaching two years ago.
Today an active mother with a son, she trains around twenty men aged 18 to 30.
“At first this situation was not accepted. As you know, in Upper (South) Egypt it was difficult (to train) in sports like boxing,” Saqr said. “Plus, having a girl doing the training made it a bit more difficult.”
She says her serious approach has helped her gain respect and trust.
“For a woman, training a man is not a very good thing in Upper Egypt,” said Amr Salah Eldin, who trains with Saqr after overcoming his initial reservations.
But his “experience and excellence” amid a lack of boxing coaches in Beni Suef made him give it a try and he now enjoys training with her, he said.
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