Australia’s new boxing star Tina Rahimi fervently hopes her historic medal at the Commonwealth Games will be a clarion call to Muslim women to go out and follow their dreams.
The Sydneysider took her bow on the international stage at the Commonwealth Games on Thursday, demonstrating with two ferocious fists, a big heart and real courage why she could be such an inspirational figure in her community.
Grabbing at least a bronze with a unanimous quarter-final points win over England’s Sameenah Toussaint, the sight of Australia’s first Muslim woman boxer at the Games winning her medal in a hijab and full make-up, all beneath protective headgear, felt a powerful image.
“I guess I know that now that I’m a role model and an inspiration to especially the Muslim females out there,” said the 26-year-old, who only took up the sport four years ago when she was a make-up artist.
“I’m showing them that you can do anything in the hijab to follow your dreams.
“It’s important to show them to go outside and be active.
“A lot don’t feel comfortable going out there in the hijab, they don’t want to play sports or anything because people are going to look at them funny or they might not like the way they dress.
“And now they can see me on a public stage doing what I love, participating in sport and showing them anything is possible and who really cares what people think of you.”
She laughed at the idea how she once used to spend her time enhancing her customers’ make-up features as opposed to trying to rearrange it in a more brutal way now.
“I’ve always enjoyed making people feel beautiful, making them feel great,” explained Rahimi, who these days does personal training to supplement her income while sponsors help back her burgeoning career.
But such was the star quality of her performance at Birmingham’s National Exhibition Centre it seems she’ll be getting plenty more offers soon.
“I was before this thinking before these Games it would be great to go professional, but I feel like it’s more of a challenge for me in the amateurs because you’ve got so many more elite athletes.
“I just want to go straight into fighting the best in the world and proving that I am the best, and hopefully go to the Olympics as well.
“That’s my plan for now but who knows? Maybe I can turn pro, maybe get (top British promoter) Eddie Hearn on board.
“He was here yesterday! I thought, ‘why couldn’t he be here tonight?'”