Weight Of The World | Ruqsana Begum

Weight Of The World | Ruqsana Begum


Ruqsana Begum found her passion in Muay Thai. 
When an arranged marriage came to an end, Ruqsana found solace in the world of boxing, channelling her anxious energy into a once predominantly male sport.
Find out how she overcame the difficult and challenging obstacles life threw her way, allowing her to come back stronger than ever… 

In Weight Of The World, you talk about the fact that you trained in secret for five years due to your traditional background, what was that like and why was it something you felt you needed to do?

I began training Muay Thai at the age of 18 and I was very aware of my background - coming from a Muslim Asian tradition family - I knew it was unheard for someone like me to go into a combat sport! 

There were very few Western women who took up Muay Thai as it involves elbows, knees, kicks and traditional boxing - it’s one of the most brutal sports in the world, known as the art of 8 limbs. Women's participation has dramatically changed and increased over the years, however, 12-15 years ago is was a masculine and intimidating environment; these were some of the reasons as to why I was afraid to tell my family about my passion for the sport - I felt they would kindly ask me to give it up. 

Even visiting friends was difficult at that time for me, as my family were very protective. My brother wanted to pursue football and was scouted for Arsenal, however, my father said studies come first. With that in mind, I knew if they were saying no to their son, their daughter had no chance. I’m extremely grateful that over the years they have adapted and moved with the times and are very proud of my achievements! 

We are always promoting the fact that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. You mentioned you suffered from panic attacks and were on anti-depressants, do you think this stemmed from your training in secret, or was it more than that?

I suffered panic attacks after a failed arranged marriage. Training was my happy place. Thai boxing gave me a lifeline. What started as a hobby became a career, and I plucked up the courage to introduce my passion to my parents. It was like a blessing in disguise! My family just wanted to see me well and healthy, so they turned a blind eye to the sport and allowed me to continue.

You have an incredibly positive and infectious attitude towards training and life! What would you say to someone who may be going through the same thing you went through?

It's important to have a balanced life and find a passion in which you feel stimulated and alive - I think that’s what makes us who we are. Failure is the road to success, and true success rises from setbacks and failure. You find your true self through the process. The world presents us with challenges to allow us to grow and mature. We put restrictions on ourselves, but nothing is unattainable. 

As it’s the New Year and we’re currently in the midst of Gymshark 66, do you have any goals for 2019?

My aim is to set goals and work towards them;

1) Become a world champion in boxing 

2) Write a book; I want to inspire others through my journey and the obstacles I have overcome. 

3) Work with young people and women to help mentor them through my experiences

4) I would love to bring a female perspective to boxing shows, encouraging women empowerment and be a voice that advocates change. 

Want to know more about other people involved within this incredible campaign? Check out Jack's interview here and Sade's interview here

Want to watch the whole Weight Of The World | Gymshark 66 video? Find it here

Fancy going Behind The Scenes? Check it out here

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