16-year-old boxer Amaiya Zafar was disqualified from the Sugar Bert Boxing National Championships in Kissimmee, Florida, on Sunday, but, thanks to a remarkable act of sportsmanship from her opponent, she still went home with a belt. Zafar, a Muslim, has been fighting for the right to fight with a hijab under her headgear, and with a shirt and leggings under her shorts and top. The conservative garb remains, however, a violation of uniform regulations imposed by USA Boxing — a violation that led officials to call off Zafar’s impending fight with Aliyah Charbonier before it began.
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Charbonier, it turned out, was as upset about the result as Zafar was. “This girl comes up to me then and puts her belt in my lap and says, ‘This is yours. They disqualified you. You’re the true winner. This is unfair,'” Zafar said. “Then we started hugging each other, and the owner [of the event] came and got me to make sure I got [a belt].”
“It’s just not right,” explained the 15-year-old Charbonier. “It’s not really a distraction for me what she’s wearing. She still had on gloves and headgear. I felt really bad for her. They didn’t give her a chance to fight.” Charbonier’s act of sportsmanship did not fall on deaf ears — in the end, tournament organizers agreed to award belts to both competitors.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, which has supported Zafar’s fight to wear conservative garb, hailed Charbonier “for her principled act of solidarity” and condemned the uniform requirement as an “outmoded and discriminatory [policy].” According to USA Boxing executive director Michael Martino, Zafar’s conservative garb is a “safety issue” because it could conceal injuries incurred before or during a fight.
Read the full story at The Washington Post.