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Girls & Women

The 7-Year-Old Nigerian Girl Who Wants to Be Like Muhammad Ali


Why Global Citizens Should Care
Taking part in sporting activities can be vital for boosting girls’ confidence and promoting agency, which is important to helping girls to grow into empowered women. Join us by taking action here to support UN Global Goal 5 for gender equality.

Sekinat Quadri packs a mean punch — literally. The 7-year-old from Lagos, Nigeria, has been boxing since the age of five.

“I want to be a world champion,” she tells BBC Yoruba

In the BBC video, Quadri looks and sounds like a typical 7-year-old. Her body is slight and her speech careful and slow, but when she puts on her blue boxing gloves, it becomes clear that she knows who she is and what she wants to be.

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“When I first told my dad and my mom that I want to become a boxer, my mom said no [because] I’m a girl,” Quadri continued.“My dad said yes.”

Goal 5 of the UN Global Goals — 17 goals that work together to end extreme poverty — is aimed at achieving gender equality by empowering all women and girls.

This is informed by the recognition that other goals, including zero hunger, eradicating poverty, and achieving decent work and economic growth, can’t be achieved while girls and women are politically, economically, and socially held back in comparison to men and boys.

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Quadri is inspired by Muhammad Ali, Laila Ali, and Claressa Shields. Muhammad Ali is considered the greatest boxer of all time; meanwhile his daughter Laila was a boxer from 1999 to 2005 and never experienced defeat in her short, but formidable career in the ring. American boxer Shields, 23, is a two-time undefeated middleweight champion.

Like her heroes, Quadri has also had to overcome barriers on her ongoing road to the top. In her case, the perception that a girl cannot become a boxer.

In Africa, along with the rest of the world, promoting gender equality is critical — and it will rely on promoting the agency for girls to be their own people, and to help them make empowering life choices.

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Sport, which boosts confidence, is one of the ways in which girls can discover their power. Campaigns by Sports England and Girlguiding UK, This Girl, and For The Girl have previously found that a girl’s self-esteem improves significantly if she plays sport.

Meanwhile, Psychology Today notes: “There seems little doubt that a positive perception of physical self worth is an important factor underlying more general positive perceptions of oneself, especially during childhood and early adolescence.”

True to the belief that when a girl or a woman is empowered, she will also do the same for her community, Quadri is already encouraging other girls to try a hand at boxing.

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“I would like to tell girls who are scared of boxing that boxing is not hard,” she added. “It’s just a jab, one, two.”