Ikram Kerwat's life reads like a script straight out of Hollywood. Her boxing journey started at the tender age of 9 as a means to protect her mother from her alcoholic father. Fast forward to the present, and Kerwat has triumphed as a three-time world champion.
Currently visiting Dubai, the German boxer is on a mission to inspire youngsters to put down their phones and embrace the world of boxing, advocating for a healthier and more active lifestyle.
“Children these days spend so much time on social media platforms that they start to lose touch with reality,” she said, speaking to Khaleej Times. “I want them to keep their phones aside and pick up the boxing gloves. They have to develop themselves and develop a mindset where their self-esteem is really high. Boxing helps with this.”
Ikram said she wanted girls to stop dreaming of Prince Charming, rescuing them from distress and learning to protect themselves. “They have to know themselves and believe in themselves,” she said. “I am a woman; I am a fighter, and I am a mom of two wonderful kids. Also, I can handle my life. I don’t need to depend on anyone else. This is what I want to tell these girls. That they can work on themselves without waiting for somebody to take care of them.”
From survivor to champ
Hailing from Tunisia, Ikram first got into boxing after watching her alcoholic father beat up her mother. “I had a very difficult dad,” she said. “I have two older brothers and we all decided to protect our mother and ourselves as best we could. Also, I happened to see Tunisian soldiers practising boxing at their camp and I just fell in love with it.”
Once she migrated to Germany, she continued her passion for boxing. “It was hard, and at the time, there was a lot of racism,” she said. “One club I went to asked me to change my name because it sounded Muslim. I left and finally found some amazing mentors and coaches who taught me to dream bigger.”
Today, Ikram is one of the most successful female boxers to come out of Germany and is one of the top names in her division.
Ikram, who is in Dubai to conduct boxing classes with a local gym, spoke to students at the GEMS Metropole school during a session demonstrating strength and conditioning exercises, nutrition tips and 15-minute cold water therapy. “Just like a balanced diet has a variety of food, a healthy and fit body requires a variety of things,” she said. “That is why the session involved not just strength and conditioning but also nutrition and recovery methods like cold water therapy.”
Mike Lowery, Director of Sport at GEMS Metropole School, Motor City, said the session was a very significant one for the students of the school. “Ikram is a Muslim woman at the top of the sporting world; she is also a mother of two,” he said. “She is truly smashing the glass ceiling, so when she shares her journey with our young students, they can see that it is possible to achieve excellence. They will also be able to see the commitment and effort required to do so. Students had been instructed to research her career and prepare questions for Ikram to answer.”
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