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Meet Moroccan boxer Khadija Mardi, the first Arab and African female heavyweight world champion

Khadija Mardi
Khadija Mardi

The Moroccan boxing champion Khadija Mardi, 32-years-old, and a mother of three, was crowned with gold after defeating her Kazakh competitor Kongibayeva Lazat in the heavyweight final of the IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships, +81kg category, the event was held between 15 to 26 March, 2023 in New Delhi, India. She is the first Moroccan, African and Arab to win a boxing world champion title.

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS Al-Mardi, has previously represented Morocco in a number of prestigious sports competitions abroad like Rio 2016 Olympic Games, where she placed 5th in heavyweight, and participated in Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. She was an IBA world boxing championships silver medalist in 2022 Istanbul (heavyweight), and world bronze medalist in 2019 Ulan-Ude (middleweight). She is a six-time African Champion, and double champion of Coupe mohamed 6 internationale. The start of the 2023 season came smashing for Khadija, when she became champion of the IBA Women’s World Boxing 2023 just this weekend. Moroccans on social media celebrated widely her title win.

FAMILY DEDICATION World champion Khadija Al-Mardi said in a statement for Al-Youm 24: “I am very happy to be crowned finally with the gold medal in the World Women’s Boxing Championship, I dedicate this coronation to my family, who’s been my support system, King Mohammed VI and to all Moroccans.”.

TEAM MOROCCO FEMME The Moroccan team included four female boxers for this world championship: Khadija Al-Mardi (+81kg), Yasmine Motaki (-48kg), who was crowned with bronze, along with Wydad Bartal (-54kg) and Rabab Cheddar (-50kg), who were eliminated, respectively, in the second round and the quarter-finals, against the Mongolian Mongontseg Enkhergal and French Lakhaderi Wassila.

IBA SUPPORT PORGRAM 23 nations enjoyed the Financial Support Program, advanced by the International Boxing Association (IBA) to allow boxers take part in the World Boxing Championships in New Delhi’s K.D. Jadhav Indoor Hall, and some of them are having their debut at this major women’s event.

PARTICIPATING NATIONS Athletes from countries across 4 continents, including Afghanistan, Nepal, Guyana, Guatemala, Moldova, Eswatini, Colombia, Sierra Leone, Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Tanzania, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Botswana, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Sri Lanka, Jordan, Haiti, Slovakia, Mali, Cameroon and an individual athlete from the Netherlands are among those benefitted from the FSP.

Among those countries, Nepal, Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico got quarter-finalists.

DEVELOPING BOXING GLOBALLY “Our main goal is to create good conditions for our athletes to compete. IBA Financial Support Program aims to help smaller and less fortunate countries to compete internationally and receive necessary experience from major tournaments. For those nations that have already been competing at this level, it’s a huge chance to be on the podium, despite financial issues. Step by step after their debuts, countries that are here for the first time, will develop faster in boxing,” IBA President Umar Kremlev said.

“IBA Women’s World Boxing Championships is not only a major competition, but a great exchange of experience for nations, as they have opportunity to train together and organise sparring especially for boxers, who were eliminated.” Kremlev added.

By Nadine Alsheikh Hassan – AIPS Media

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