Tina Rahimi Is the First Muslim Woman to Represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games — and She Killed It
As the Commonwealth Games come to a close, we’re looking back at the athletes who represented Australia on the big stage.
Specifically, boxing star Tina Rahimi, who managed to inspire and win the hearts of Muslim women all over the globe.
Rahimi is the first ever hijabi to represent Australia at the Commonwealth Games, and on Sunday night, she stepped up onto the podium and accepted her bronze medal.
It was a powerful sight. The 26-year-old wore her hijab proudly, accepting an award for a sport that is typically played by women who look a lot different.
“When I first started boxing, I did feel like people were looking at me because of my hijab, but also because I don’t look like a typical boxer,” she told POPSUGAR Australia.
“I didn’t have those big arms or the body of someone who has been training for a long time.”
The former makeup artist left behind her career and her business to pursue the sport, and while she still loves everything the beauty industry has to offer, nothing makes her feel the way boxing does.
“I was doing makeup and started boxing at the time just as a form of exercise, so I wasn’t expecting it to become anything; it was just for me to get out and be active in a group environment,” she said.
“After boxing for a while, I became quite good at it, and that’s when I realised this is what I want to do. So I quit doing makeup last year and devoted my time to boxing and the Commonwealth Games.”
Qualifying for the Commonwealth Games is no easy feat, considering Rahimi only started boxing five years ago.
But her hard work and sheer grit took her to Birmingham, even though it wasn’t part of the original plan.
“When I started with my new gym two years ago, the pathway that we had didn’t include Olympic-style boxing,” the athlete admitted.
“My goal was always to turn professional, so I never considered Olympics or the Commonwealth Games.
“And then when COVID hit, we weren’t having any national events, so I wasn’t getting matched up, and no one wanted to fight me.
“So, when I found out the Commonwealth Games was approaching, I thought I’d give it a shot.
“We had nationals as a selection event to compete at the Commonwealth Games, and that’s when I competed and won four fights, four days in a row, and that’s when I thought, ‘Commonwealth Games here I come!’.”
Now, Rahimi says she’s not looking back, saying, “I don’t even want to turn pro after this”, as she hopes to reach the Paris Olympics.
Her journey is inspiring to the millions of Muslim, hijab-wearing women around the world, who hope to compete in sports but have never seen themselves represented.
Rahimi acknowledges the weight of those expectations, and she hopes to motivate her fellow Muslims to take part in professional sports.
“I want Muslim women to get out of their comfort zone and participate in sport — it doesn’t necessarily have to be boxing,” said Rahimi.
“I want them to look at me and know that they can do it and that there is a place for Muslim women in professional sports.”