14 September 2017
Ruqsana Begum: Resilience-boosting Tricks
A unique Woman Who Can, Ruqsana Begum is the British and world Muay Thai kickboxing champion. The only Muslim woman who is a national champion in her sport, she opens up about resilience and standing out from the crowd.
Ruqsana Begum is brave in every sense of the word. Known as Warrior Princess in the ring, she hasn’t just defeated world-class opponents, she has broken down barriers and overcome the adversity of being a girl with sporting aspirations born into a strict Muslim household.
What started as a hobby that she hid from her parents, the architecture graduate is now a full-time kickboxer. Ruqsana is captain of the British Muay Thai team and coaches for the charity Fight For Peace, which uses sport to protect and rehabilitate children swept into gangs and crime. She recently designed an active hijab to encourage more Muslim women into sport and, despite suffering from ME, competes to the highest level and works tirelessly to use sport for the empowerment of women.
"All you can do is give life your best shot."
Ruqsana’s Five Resilience-boosting Tricks
Be true to yourself
I found the courage to open up to my family and tell them about my sport. I was caught between two worlds, two cultures; I figured that there was room to live in both. I’m not scared to challenge myself, so that I can grow into the woman I want to be.
Give yourself a pat on the back
Self-doubt is human but I overcome my doubts by looking back over the positives in my life, and given my background, appreciating how far I have come.
Draw strength from helping others
I constantly reassure my team that this is their time to shine – and that all you can do is give life your best shot.
Through my own experiences I have learnt that setbacks are a state of mind and that really, they take you one step closer to your destination. Have a strategy moving forward and don’t get emotional – or worse, quit.
Draw discipline into your life
I want to be the best I can in life: I want to stand out from the crowd. But that doesn’t happen without hard work and discipline. My tips: have self-respect and self-belief; use your courage; draw on your mental strength and always work hard. Life isn’t easy, you need to be able to adapt.
Get To Know... Ruqsana
Who is your Woman Who Can?
All women who push boundaries, who are focused and passionate. Women who are not afraid to fail. Women like Olympian Mary Kom and J.K Rowling.
I could not have succeeded without...
What advice would you give your younger self?
Your failures will lead to victory.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Walking into the ring with a chronic illness.
What song makes you feel like you could take on the world?
Diamonds – Rihanna
If I had a mathematical work style formula, it would read:
Pencil skirt + blouse + black heels + handbag + self-belief.
A blend of resilience, drive, risk taking, perseverance, competence and plenty of hard work.
My secret skill is...
Drawing!Read the mission statement
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