By Oumie Bojang & Fatoumatta Saidykhan
Unlike other sporting activities, little is known about boxing in the Gambia but one woman breaking barriers in the male-dominated field is Mariama Barry, the country’s only female boxing champion who is currently training hard to represent the country in international boxing championships.
The 57Kg weight boxing Champion is due to represent The Gambia in a female boxing championship in Turkey as well as the Zone 2 Youth Boxing Championship in Nigeria and Paris Olympics qualifications.
Mariama Barry, who is famous for her signature Muslim veil, Hijab is leading a new effort to break new barriers by throwing herself in the boxing ring to inspire young women to take up male-dominated sporting events.
In an Interview with Alkamba Sports, Mariama said she was inspired to do boxing and take classes after a friend told her she will do great.
“When I came home from a “kungfu” competition in Senegal I joined the PIU and started training as a boxer, ‘ She told TAT.
Mariama said gender discrimination and societal stigma made training challenging for her as Gambians believe certain sports are not meant for women.
“I use to hide during training at the beginning but with time, my love for the sport and continuous encouragement from my trainers kept me motivated and I haven’t looked back ever since”.
She is now encouraging young women to join the association because being the only female boxer can be lonely sometimes.
Gambian Boxer Patrick Gomez, the organizer of the tournament said they are doing their utmost best to revive boxing in The Gambia by staging street and beach performances to entertain spectators and promote the sport.
Boxing ace on the government and NGOs to help sponsor the sport as all they are doing is currently self-funded events lacking effective support.
Abdoulie Sonko, Technical Director of The Gambia Boxing Association who is also an officer of the Gambia National Army said he has been working with the National boxing team for almost 5years.
Sonko called for collective support in training equipment and a designated boxing ground to improve the sport.
“We urge all organizations to come and help the National Boxing team and we are looking forward to seeing more ladies as we only have one young woman training with the national team, Mr. Sonko further said.