Halah Al-Hamrani out to land a knockout punch for women in the boxing ring

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Saudi pioneer Halah Alhamrani, 41, trains in her gym centre in Jeddah (AFP)
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Updated 29 October 2018
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Halah Al-Hamrani out to land a knockout punch for women in the boxing ring

  • Al-Hamrani has her sights on training a Saudi woman at the Olympics.
  • The Jeddah-based boxer trains around 150 to 200 women from early teens to 60.

LONDON: The inaugural World Boxing Super Series final in Jeddah last month may have put Saudi Arabia on the boxing map, but women’s pugilism in the Kingdom is proving a knockout success even without international recognition.
That is the message from Halah Al-Hamrani, below, who has determinedly trained Saudi Arabian women in boxing and kickboxing for the past 16 years at her Jeddah-based gym FlagBoxing.
She hopes to stage the first boxing competitions for females in the Kingdom next year, and has lofty ambitions of training one to glory at the Olympics.
“My ultimate dream for women’s boxing in Saudi is definitely for one of them to go to the Olympics,” Al-Hamrani told Arab News.
Al-Hamrani was “very excited” to attend the WBSS final, which saw Britain’s Callum Smith power to a seventh-round knockout of his compatriot George Groves at a packed King Abdullah Sports City Arena on Sept. 28.
“It was an incredible day for me,” Al-Hamrani said, before adding: “(I was) happily surprised to see that 20 percent of the crowd were women.”


The popularity of boxing among women is largely due to the passion and perseverance of Al-Hamrani, who is harnessing the power of social media to deal a right hook to deep-seated perceptions that boxing is too brutal and violent for females.
“I try to give (them) as much information as possible and show the process through social media such as Instagram,” said Al-Hamrani, who became a certified boxer at the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) in Arizona after honing her martial arts prowess while studying at the University of San Diego in California.
“I think it’s become a little less scary for women and I think it attracts them to the sport. We’re still at the early stages because you’re dealing with females who have never really been exposed to the sport or had sport in their lives.
“I train around 150 to 200 women from early teens to 60. Recently we have seen a few girls that have the potential to go into competition and that are interested in going into competition,” said Al-Hamrani, whose interest in combat sports was first kindled when she started karate at the age of 12 at a Jeddah private school.
“I don’t know if it’s something that’s going to happen really quickly, but we are going to start trying to provide local competitions to get these females out of their houses and we can try and see what potential is out there.”
Al-Hamrani intends to wield her considerable sporting influence — she represents mixed martial arts (MMA) on the Saudi Olympic Committee — to help women’s boxing jab its way into the public consciousness.
“I think I have a good platform to be able to get these women into competition. I also have the ear of the president of the Saudi Arabian Boxing Federation (Omar Al-Ghamd) and he’s very much willing to help.
“I hope that we can see it grow the right way and then create an Olympic champion as well. I think it is possible that we might able to stage competitions in 2019.”
The benefits of boxing extend way beyond the physical and health aspect of training hard, Al-Hamrani claimed. Boxing and martial arts afford women “incredible benefits”, she said, including “empowerment” above all.
“I know that sounds cliched and I know a lot of people are like, ‘Yeah, whatever,’ but it’s truly the case. I can’t say enough how I’ve seen women become empowered through the sport. The sport itself helps you develop your mental strength as well as physical.
“In the beginning, they don’t care about that and want to develop themselves or ask if they are going to lose weight. It’s always about the aesthetics and then eventually you start to see they’re becoming mentally extremely strong individuals and they carry themselves differently.”
Al-Hamrani admitted 2018 has been “an incredible year” for her and other Saudi women thanks to the sweeping reforms that have been introduced, including the end of the driving ban in June.
She is also delighted that Saudi public schools have started to offer physical education for girls.
“It’s something that all of us have waited to see. The country and our government are in support of us and is backing women empowerment.
“I am surrounded by women who are incredible. I think they’re going to have so much to offer to the world, not just Saudi Arabia in the next years to come, Inshallah.”


David Warner on fire in IPL return after ball-tampering ban but epic knock not enough to stop Kolkata

Updated 24 March 2019
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David Warner on fire in IPL return after ball-tampering ban but epic knock not enough to stop Kolkata

  • Warner did not play in the 2018 edition of the IPL tournament
  • During his ban, he played T20 franchise cricket in Canada, Bangladesh and the Caribbean

KOLKATA: Australia’s David Warner smashed 85 from 53 balls on his Indian Premier League comeback Sunday but his knock went in vain as Sunrisers Hyderabad lost to Kolkata Knight Riders.
Warner, who along with compatriot Steve Smith returns to the Twenty20 tournament after missing the previous edition due to a ball-tampering controversy, steered Sunrisers to 181 for three after being put into bat.
Warner did not play in the 2018 edition of the IPL tournament after organizers stopped him for his part in the scandal.
His one-year ban from international cricket ends later this month and the 32-year-old opener is expected to make Australia’s World Cup squad and play in this summer’s Ashes series in England.
During his ban, he played T20 franchise cricket in Canada, Bangladesh and the Caribbean, and grade cricket in Australia.
His efforts though were not enough, with Andre Russell hitting an unbeaten 49 off 19 balls as the Knight Riders won by six wickets with two balls to spare at Kolkata’s Eden Gardens.
A pause for a floodlight failure in the 16th over re-charged Knight Riders’ chase as Russell put together an unbeaten 65-run stand with Shubman Gill, who hit 18 runs including the winning six.
Russell struck four fours and four sixes
Earlier Warner stood out during a 118-run opening stand with England’s Jonny Bairstow, who made 39, to lay the platform for their big total.
“It is good to get out there and contribute. It looked a nice wicket to bat on but it slowed down a bit which made us reassess after six overs,” Warner said after his knock.
The Australian admitted some anxiety before his big return to IPL — and an unusual solution.
“I was a bit nervous in the dressing room and kept drinking pickle juice,” he said.
Opener Warner survived a reprieve on 38 after Knight Riders captain and wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik dropped him off left-arm wrist spinner Kuldeep Yadav.
Warner, who captained Sunrisers to their only IPL title in 2016, made the most of the spill and raced to his 37th IPL fifty with a six off Russell to signal his aggressive intent.
Bairstow was bowled by leg-spinner Piyush Chawla but Warner took the attack to the opposition, hitting nine fours and three sixes during his blitz.
Warner, who recently recovered from an elbow injury he picked in the Bangladesh Premier League, finally fell to Russell after driving the ball to cover.
Warner said his elbow “wasn’t all too bad” after doing a lot of work with his trainer back home.
Year-long bans from state and international cricket for Warner and Smith end on March 28 but the duo are keen to get among the runs in the IPL, ahead of the 50-over World Cup starting in May.
The suspension did not include club games but IPL’s governing council decided not to allow the disgraced duo in the 11th edition of the T20 league last year in a bid to avoid controversy.
The pair were banned for cheating in a Cape Town Test in March last year along with teammate Cameron Bancroft, whose nine-month ban has already finished.
Smith is expected to appear for his team Rajasthan Royals in their opening match against Kings XI Punjab in Jaipur on Monday.