Nino Severino: Ramla Ali is a true boxing inspiration
In this week’s column, Nino Severino meets Ramla Ali and tells of her incredible story in the world of boxing
As Director of The Hub at The University of Suffolk, I am meeting some incredible and inspirational individuals who are searching for world class programme support.
The latest sporting hero that has crossed my life path is a very determined woman called Ramla Ali.
She lives in London and recently heard from one of my associates in London all about The Hub and what we are building in terms of specialist support.
She obtained my contact details and reached out, which led to a very long telephone call one Sunday night, and eventually onto agreeing a date for her to travel into Ipswich to visit The Hub.
I had heard about Ramla, and the extraordinary life she has led, but it is always special to hear from the athletes themselves.
Ramla Ali won the British and English boxing titles in 2016, but the incredible back story behind this achievement is simply amazing.
She had endure the stresses and strains of preparing and entering the ring without any of her family members present to provide her with the support that many fighters benefit from.
This was not because they could not attend, or could not quite bring themselves to watch her fight, knowing that they would have to watch her take the punishment that all fighters ultimately will need to absorb. They did not attend because they simply did not know she was fighting.
Ramla is the first Muslim female boxer to win an English boxing title, and this was the basis of why none of her family attended her title winning bout, her family are devout and strict Muslims, which meant that Ramla believed that they would not back her and let her lead this path in sport she was so desperate to take.
I literally could not believe this.
I asked her, how did you manage to attend all the bouts that would lead you to a title a fight if your mum did not know? She told me that she had to be very creative, and one of the ways she would ensure she made the fights in and around London, was to tell her mum, she was going for a run, but of course she was not, she was actually travelling to a venue to fight for her dream.
Ramla arrived in Ipswich with her support team, Richard Moore, her boxing coach, Liam Mistry, her strength and conditioning coach and another support team member.
I noticed one thing immediately, as this was the life I once led, a life where you are part of a very committed and devoted team of professionals who support a talented athlete and their dreams of greatness.
Even though they moved as one extremely tight team, they were very open and very nice individuals. This first encounter with Ramla was an all-day affair, so we had plenty of time to all get to know each other, and as we started to feel comfortable with each other, we discussed many aspects of the incredible life this woman has already led.
As the day carried on, there were lots of opportunities to carry on building a relationship with the whole of Team Ramla, and the more we spoke, the more I was respecting this woman, who has a very gentle nature and personality, but, who clearly had a heart of a Lioness and an unlimited amount of mental strength and bravery.
This strength and bravery were not only cultivated through her tough experiences during training and in the boxing ring, but also through a life that had already dealt her some very challenging blows.
When Ramla was a young child, her and her family fled from Somali, the capital of Mogadishu, this was during the early 1990s, a tragedy had cruelly forced her family to make this decision after her older brother, aged 12 was killed by a mortar, like so many other children, while he was playing in the street.
It is simply heart-breaking to know that children, who should be having the most innocent and happy years of their lives, instead have their lives taken away from them under such terrible circumstances.
Ramla and her whole family experienced a terrible ordeal escaping from Somalia, she is in fact very lucky to even be alive, and she knows this, maybe its this, that creates the basis of her incredible strength, a very strong realisation, she has been given a second chance, it could even be described as a miracle, Ramla decided that she would take this life opportunity and make sure she made something very special out of her life.
Ramla is now fully sponsored by the massive sport brand Nike, she spends much of her time inspiring and motivating other Muslim girls to take up sport, but on a wider basis introducing boxing to girls all over Great Britain.
I can say, that this boxer who once fought under the England flag, but who now fights for her homeland of Somalia is without doubt an inspiration to me, and all the Team Hub members who had the privilege of spending so much time with her.
I am looking forward to being a very small part of Ramla’s support team, and watching to see what else this incredible refuge from Somalia can achieve through her sporting life!
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