Pakistan’s first female MMA fighter, Anita Karim, is the only woman among 300 participants to compete internationally in the sport. She comes from a family of MMA fighters and hails from Hunza Valley, Gilgit-Baltistan, Pakistan. Karim, along with her brothers Uloomi, Ehtisham Karim, and Ali Sultan, runs an MMA gym based in Islamabad, namely known as “Fight Fortress,” which is the only MMA training gym in the country.
The MMA gym and training facilities were formally introduced in Pakistan not very long ago. In this short period of time, a total of 300 individuals are all set to compete internationally. Among them stands just one woman, Anita Karim. Due to the nature of the sports, it may seem like women have no scope in the game, but women such as Karim have busted that stereotype with their forceful punches and kicks. In fact, she is ahead of the curve and has been competing internationally to achieve bigger things in life.
In the previous year, MMA wasn’t a burgeoning sport in Pakistan. It is now that the MMA scene has witnessed rapid growth as several Pakistani fighters made waves in the ring internationally. What we understand now is that many more are getting ready to join their lead. Within 60 days, Anita got a grip on the sport and started playing internationally; however, it will take her some more time to win her first international bout.
The 24-year-old is proud to be the first woman MMA fighter from Pakistan. “It is quite usual, to be honest. I belong to a family of Taekwondo black belt holders and to an area where the women do all the toughest work. The bodies of the women in our region are trained to do hard work. From an early age, we carry a lot of load on our backs and climb up the hills. A woman carries around 20 to 30 kilograms of wood, crop, and other necessities for many kilometres. This makes our muscles adapted to hard work,” she said.
She added, “When I was born and raised, I used to hear that the sons are the ones who make their parents proud. I never liked to hear people say that women are made to do household work, and they should stay within their limits. I always used to tell my dad that I will become his son and do everything that men can do”.
Anita has won the One Warrior Series (OWS) in 2019, awarded Rs. 100 000 by the Chief Minister of Gilgit-Baltistan, Hafeez-ur-Rehman, earned medals at the Special Olympics in Abu Dhabi, 2019, and emerged victorious with two gold medals at the Pakistan Grappling Challenge (PGC) 2018.
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