Women boxers warm up for Pakistan’s Provincial Games

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Boxing coach Shehnaz Kamal training her students boxing at a class in her home in Peshawar. (AN photo by Shahid Shalmani)
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Boxing coach Shehnaz Kamal training her students boxing at a class in her home in Peshawar. (AN photo by Shahid Shalmani)
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Boxing coach Shehnaz Kamal and her husband Kamal in a group photo with their students. (AN photo by Shahid Shalmani)
Updated 13 March 2018
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Women boxers warm up for Pakistan’s Provincial Games

PESHAWAR: Inside a rented house in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial capital of Peshawar, 10 girls exercise, shadowing their boxing coach.
They are preparing for the Provincial Games, which will begin on March 17.
After a few minutes of warm-up exercise, the coach, Shehnaz Kamal, wearing two punching pads on her hands, calls her students one by one to punch the pads.
Shehnaz said that they normally train once a day, but since the beginning of the training camp for the games they have started training twice a day to build their stamina.
“Three of our boxers, Hadia Kamal, Aqsa Ali and Habiba Fazil Khan, have been selected to compete in the provincial games and we are training them to ensure they win,” Shehnaz said.
Aqsa Ali said that they are training five hours daily. “We train two hours in the morning and three hours in the evening,” she told Arab News.
Habiba Fazil Khan said that she feels excited to have been selected. “I am glad that I have good coaches who are working hard to improve our performance. Hopefully I will win a gold medal.”
Shehnaz said that she developed a liking for the sport from her three brothers who are boxers. She liked it more, and is now married to Kamal Shah, who is a coach and a boxer.
“In 2005 my husband started training me, and after that I did courses in coaching including an international course by a Sri Lankan boxing coach in Karachi in December 2015.”
Now Shehnaz is a three-star boxing coach.
After returning from Karachi, Shehnaz wanted to train girls to box — and for free. “Like boys, girls also need martial arts for their self-defense,” she said. “At the same time, I know that parents in our society prefer their daughters to train with female coaches.”
Then she had the idea of a home-based academy that offered the right environment for girls who want to learn boxing.
The idea was successful, said Shehnaz, and achieved good results, “As a result of our preparation and hard work in training for the
2016 South Asian Games, our students Sofia Javed and Rukhsana Parveen won bronze medals,” she said.
Now Shehnaz and her team want to make a difference again.
Hadia Kamal, another boxer with Shehnaz, said that there was a time at the beginning of her training that she was afraid of boxing fights, but now she laughs it away.
“I will aim for a gold medal in the provincial games this time. Given my preparation and diet, I can’t wait to be in the boxing ring.”


Blues artist Hindi Zahra pays tribute to her homeland

Updated 16 December 2018
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Blues artist Hindi Zahra pays tribute to her homeland

DUBAI: Moroccan singer Hindi Zahra recently bought her mesmerizing brand of music to the Louvre Abu Dhabi, where she performed as part of the Rain of Light festival on Friday.
Arab News caught up with the singer, who has been compared the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Patti Smith, before the show to find out more about her foot-tapping style of music and the album that her performances are based on, “Homeland.”
The Paris-based musician pays tribute to her home country of Morocco in the album, which features a mix of English and Amazigh-language tracks.
“It is the country that gave me everything,” the artist, whose stage name is simply her real name inverted, told Arab News.
“It gave me… mixed culture — African culture, Mediterranean culture. My openness toward other cultures comes from my Moroccan roots,” she added.
Hindi was raised on a steady diet of jazz, rock and blues, which she said her uncles collected due to a familial interest in international music.
That could be part of the reason why she is so comfortable performing in multiple languages.
“I am comfortable with both (English and Amazigh), but because I… grew up with a lot of Afro-American music, it was really natural for me to improvise in English.”
In addition to a clear appreciation and understanding of Western jazz and rock music, Hindi spoke fondly about a legendary Egyptian artist whom she said has inspired her.
Abdel Halim Hafez, who worked during the country’s golden age of entertainment between the 1950s to 70s, played an important role in shaping Hindi’s own style.
“I love the way he delivered feelings through music,” she said of the late opera singer who died in 1977.
Imbued with an appreciation for a wide range of international styles, Hindi released her first album when she was 30 years old — even though she says she was ready 10 years earlier.
She waited a decade so she could produce music on her own terms, under her own label, she said.
“I am shocked about the condition of women in the industry, so it was very important for me to be free and to own my music so nobody owns me.”
After all this, her only hope when it comes to performing is “that (the audience) will dance,” she said.
“If I see them enjoying (the) music to the point that they dance, this is the most important.”