“Unbelievable! Boxing, once prohibited in Somalia, flourishes in the tumultuous former battlegrounds”
On Wednesday May 17, 2023, Mohamed Gabobe wrote an article detailing the revival of boxing in Somalia, a country still struggling with violence after decades of civil war. Despite the difficult circumstances around them, young boxers in Mogadishu have found a haven in the only official boxing club in the city, where they train and dream of international success.
For Najib Mohamed, boxing provides an escape from the pain and uncertainty of daily life in the city. “In a place where negative temptations and uncertainty abound, the ring offers a respite from the troubles around me,” he tells the BBC while throwing punches.
Many of these young boxers have been through traumatic experiences, such as the violent siege of the capital in 2007, in which Najib’s father and grandfather were killed. But the boxing club offers them a chance to focus on becoming better boxers and, ultimately, providing a better life for themselves and their families.
The Somali Boxing Federation was first established in 1935, but the sport was banned in 1978 after a participant died during a bout. It wasn’t until 2018 that boxing was allowed to make a comeback in Somalia and the club was reopened. Now, young boxers like Mohamed hope to follow in the footsteps of London-based Ramla Ali, who boxed for Somalia at the last Olympic Games in Tokyo.
While many young Somalis aspire to leave the country for a better life abroad, the young boxers at the Mogadishu boxing club find solace in the sport, fighting not only for a chance at a new life but also for the opportunity to raise the profile of boxing in their home country.