By: Nina Samone
On Saturday night when Ramla Ali takes on Crystal Garcia Nova on the undercard of Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua, she will make history as one of the participants in the first professional female fight to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
The British-Somali boxer is an Olympian, author, activist and model who was handpicked by Meghan Markle to be on the cover of Vogue – with a feature-length biopic in the works.
Ali was born in 1989 in Somalia but fled the country with her family when she was two to seek refuge in the United Kingdom.
She started “boxercise” at the age of 12 after her mother sent her to a local gym and caught the eye of talent scouts soon after.
From there, she began to represent England across Europe and winning multiple amateur boxing titles.
Despite the challenges she has faced in her life, her skill and sparring matches with other professional champions and the support of her family encouraged her to keep going.
“Now my family are my biggest supporters, which means everything to me as I don’t think I would have wanted to continue if there was still conflict (with them),” Ali said.
“My parents of course would rather I didn’t punch people for a living, but they now understand it’s given me a platform to also do great work outside of the sport.”
In 2018, Ali founded the Sisters Club – now operating across four gyms in London. The charity offers a place for hijab-wearing women of color and those that have suffered from domestic violence to have a safe place to learn about self-defense and improve their self-confidence.
All of Ali’s hard work and preparation have prepared her for the toughest fight yet – the Rage on the Red Sea matchup in Jeddah.
“This fight will be without a doubt one of the high points in my boxing career. To have been part of helping shape the culture towards creating greater equality in the region is more important than my own personal successes or feelings.”
Kuehn, Michelle. August 16th, 2022. Arab News. “Ramla Ali set to make women’s boxing history in Jeddah.” <https://www.arabnews.com/node/2143761/sport>
Sajad, Kal. August 15th, 2022. BBC Sport. “Ramla Ali: From refugee who fled war-torn Somalia to undefeated boxer, model & activist.” <https://www.bbc.com/sport/boxing/62412696>