Somalia-born boxer who appeared on Meghan & # 39; s Vogue cover, the civil war fled before becoming British champion
Somali boxer Ramla Ali has been a fighter all her life.
After she fled the civil war of her homeland as a toddler, the twenties – she doesn't know exactly how old she is – became a British champion after she had kept her talent secret from her Muslim parents for many years.
Yesterday it was revealed that she is one of the 15 inspiring women chosen by the Duchess of Sussex to appear on her front page Forces for Change Vogue in the September edition that she edited.
Ramla escaped from her hometown Mogadishu, the capital of the country, in the early 1990s – the morning after her older brother, 12, was killed by a mortar while playing in their yard during the civil war.
Somali boxer Ramla Ali, pictured at the Serpentine Gallery summer party earlier this year, has been a fighter all her life
Her mother Anisa Maye Maalim told about their frightening escape from the region BBC: & # 39; We have left our house, our papers, everything.
& # 39; There were bombs and people shooting at us – they killed most people in our car. & # 39;
A nine-day boat trip to Kenya followed, with many passengers dying of hunger on the crowded ship.
The family survived on handouts from the UN in Mombasa and finally arrived in the UK where they settled in London, and Ramla – who currently spoke only Somali – started her education.
Ramla was the first Muslim woman to win an English boxing title after she started sporting after her mother bought her a pass for a gym in East London.
Ramla was the first Muslim woman to win an English boxing title after she started sporting after her mother bought her a pass for a gym in East London. Depicted in action against Rachael Mackenzie in their final 54kg fight during Day Three of the Boxing Elite National Championships in May 2016 in Liverpool
She was bullied at the age of 12 because she was overweight, so she initially started training in an attempt to lose a few pounds.
& # 39; I came across a boxercise lesson. I was silent, out of breath, and I thought, "I love this," she explained.
& # 39; I just became addicted – addicted to the results I saw in my body, the confidence I gained and the friends I made. & # 39;
Ramla, the daughter of an imam and one of the seven children, kept her a secret from her strict family, fearing they would disapprove of it and the & # 39; immodest & # 39; would find.
Speak against BBC Sport Africa last year she said: & # 39; My parents live in Bethnal Green (in the east of London) and the final took place in the nearby York Hall.
Ramla, who escaped the civil war in Somalia with her family as a toddler, said her mother Anisa Maye Maalim, in the photo, did not approve of her boxing because she believed it & # 39; immodest & # 39; used to be
& # 39; I remember giving my bag to my coach and saying "I'll see you there later". I said, "Mom, Mom, I'm going to run, I'll see you soon" – and all the while I've been competing nationally. That is the effort I had to make. & # 39;
Although Ramla is not wearing a headscarf, her belief is crucial to her identity – she observes Ramadan, who goes through her rigorous training regime with an empty stomach – and was eager to hide her hobby for fear of disapproval.
Ramla admitted that her mother never saw boxing as a potential career, because they had fled a war to have a better life in Britain and to have a training & # 39 ;.
Because only her younger brother had passed on her secret, Ramla always came home from attacks with sunglasses and a cap to hide her cuts and bruises.
On the eve of her marriage to her boxing coach Richard Moore (photo) in October 2016 – four months after they started dating – her family rummaged her again and told her prospective husband that the marriage would not continue unless he stopped Ramla fighting
The few times she was discovered, she promised she would stop – what she did at one point, for six months, until & # 39; the itch came back & # 39 ;.
& # 39; It was an intervention, & # 39; Ali said to the Guardian. & # 39; I had it hidden for so long … And then I stopped, really for a long time. & # 39;
On the eve of her marriage to her boxing coach Richard Moore in October 2016 – four months after they started dating – her family rummaged her again and told her prospective husband that the marriage would not continue unless he stopped Ramla fighting.
He agreed – although he did not intend to do this – and explained that he wanted them to be happy with the marriage, but also saw that his wife achieved her goals.
She then won the England Boxing Elite National Championships – thereby adding her title for Novice National Championships 2015.
Ramla has now set her sights on the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where she would represent her homeland of Somalia
Ramla successfully represents England at the European Women's Boxing Championships the following month before winning the Great British Elite Championships in December 2016.
Her success in these major amateur tournaments made her the best amateur boxer in the country for a short period in her weight distribution, which was then 54 kg and 57 kg.
Last year she became a Nike athlete and joined Serena Williams, Mo Farah and Simone Biles.
Speaking of his wife's talent, Richard told the Guardian: & She can think under enormous amounts of stress and pressure – and still succeed. This is probably due to her background, seeing so much trauma and being able to manage a situation under mental pressure. & # 39;
Ramla became the first boxer in history to represent Somalia at the Women's World Championships, held in New Delhi, India in 2018. Depicted alongside her husband and coach Richard Moore
Last year Ramla decided to represent Somalia and has since contributed to the founding of the country's boxing federation in Mogadishu – whose husband is the national coach.
She became the first boxer in history to represent Somalia at the Women's World Championships, held in New Delhi, India in 2018.
Ramla has now set her sights on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, where, if she qualifies, she becomes the first boxer of every gender to represent Somalia. Her home country sent only two athletes to the Rio Games 2016.
She identifies herself as both British and Somalis, and her mother has always told her to be proud of her origins. Despite promising sportive loyalty to her homeland, Ramla said that Britain is the only home I have ever known.
Ramla, pictured after her win against Rachael Mackenzie in their 54kg final fight during day three of the Boxing Elite National Championships in May 2016 in Liverpool
Ramla said her mother is now & # 39; really supportive & # 39; is for her boxing, what a huge relief for her and an & # 39; incredible feeling & # 39; is – although some of her older brothers and sisters are still not convinced
Fortunately, most of her close relatives have now embraced her boxing passion – after an interview with Somali TV, their view changed.
An uncle who watched told Ramla how & # 39; pride & # 39; he was on her performance and said it broke his heart that she had done it secretly.
He promised to tell her mother that it was a & # 39; good thing & # 39; was, and that, in combination with the positive impact that her boxing could have on her confused homeland, has received the approval of her parents.
Ramla said her mother is now & # 39; really supportive & # 39; is, what a huge relief for her and an & # 39; incredible feeling & # 39; is – although some of her older brothers and sisters are not convinced.
Ramla is now raising money to bring the Botswana boxing team – who welcomed her during her recent trip – to the UK for a week of training prior to the All Africa Games in Morocco between August 19 and 31
The sportswoman, who has more than 34,100 followers on Instagram, regularly receives messages of support from the Somali community and thanks her for bringing a positive light to their country.
Giving something back is clearly high on Ramla's agenda. On Tuesdays, she gives self-defense to a group of Muslim women in Vauxhall, South London.
& # 39; They usually have no room to train. Especially the stricter ones, who don't want to take off their scarves in a normal gym environment, & she said to the Guardian.
Ramla, pictured with the WBO WBC world champion Dina Thorslund, wants to encourage women to pursue their dreams, despite what other people may say or think
She is also well aware that many African boxers who train in their home country are not sufficiently represented at the top of boxing.
Ramla is now raising money to bring the Botswana boxing team – who welcomed her during her recent trip – to the UK for a week of training prior to the All Africa Games in Morocco between August 19 and 31.
& # 39; What sets them apart from other countries is not their skill & # 39 ;, she said Time.
& # 39; It's just the fact that they don't have the same opportunities. & # 39;
Meghan may have heard about Ramla, pictured on her wedding day, through Vogue editor Edward Enninful, who recently thanked the boxer on social media for a night out at one of the UK's biggest events, the summer party of the Serpentine Gallery
She added that she would like to convey the message that women should not be deterred from following their dreams, simply because someone told them that & # 39; is not what a girl should do & # 39 ;.
& # 39; Just do what makes you happy, & # 39; she said.
Meghan may have heard about Ramla through Vogue editor Edward Enninful, who recently thanked the boxer on social media for a night out at one of the UK's biggest events, the Serpentine Gallery's summer party.
The Duchess of Sussex, 37, will be the first royal guest to edit the fashion bible and 15 & # 39; pioneers & # 39; and & # 39; changemakers & # 39; for a special & # 39; Forces for Change & # 39; release.
The Duchess of Sussex (37), pictured with Edward Enninful, editor in chief of the magazine, is the first royal guest to edit the fashion bible
The line-up of women she admires consists of celebrities, politicians and activists who are known for their championships, such as diversity, body positivity, transgender rights and climate change.
Meghan & # 39; s edition includes actress Jane Fonda, 81, and climate change campaign Greta Thunberg, 16 among famous faces.
The duchess is not on the cover because she believed it & # 39; boastful & # 39; would be for her, said editor-in-chief Edward Enninful.
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