Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Coach Younus Qambrani’s students pose with their boxing gloves at Pak Shaheen Boxing Club, Pakistan, February 20, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Mehek, 15, takes part in an exercise session at the first women's boxing coaching camp, Karachi, Pakistan, February 19, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Tabia, 12, removes her shoes after finishing an exercise session, Pakistan, February 19, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Girl trainees pose for a photograph with coach Yunus Qambrani and assistant coach Nadir, Pakistan, February 20, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Javeria (L) and Mehek check a selfie after an exercise session, Pakistan, February 19, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Misbah, 17, takes part in warm-up exercises, Pakistan, February 19, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters A friend wraps the hand of a boxer competing in the boxing tournament, Pakistan, February 21, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters The entrance of the first women's boxing coaching camp in Karachi, Pakistan, February 20, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Anum, 17, punches padding with her coach while others watch during an exercise session, Pakistan, February 20, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Arisha, 9, punches Misbah during an exercise session, Pakistan, February 20, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Arisha, 9, takes instructions from coach Younus Qambrani, Pakistan, February 19, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Tabia (R), 12, fights against Aamna, 11, during the boxing tournament, Pakistan, February 21, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Tabia (L), 12, fights against Aamna, 11, Pakistan, February 21, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Aamna, 11, waits for the start for her bout, Pakistan, February 21, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Assistant boxing coach Nadir helps Urooj, 15, put on her headgear before the start of her bout, Pakistan, February 21, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Urooj, 15, spits water during the Sindh Junior Sports Association Boxing Tournament, Pakistan, February 21, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Students of a religious school gather to watch the girls' bout during the boxing tournament, Pakistan, February 21, 2016.
Akhtar Soomro / Reuters Azmeena, 16, takes part in warm up exercises, Pakistan, February 19, 2016.

Pakistan's All-Girls Fight Club

Seven months ago, a series of chance events made Lyari—a dusty, poor, and gang-ridden neighborhood in Karachi, Pakistan—home to the country's first boxing club for girls. Khadijah, 16, had grown tired of learning how to punch and jab through videos of old matches. But, unable to find a single sports club in her town that would take girls, she approached Nadir Kachi, a local boxing champion, and asked him to train her. He declined, introducing her instead to his coach, Younis Qambrani, who had already been teaching his two daughters the sport. When he took on Khadijah, word spread quickly, and within a few months, a dozen others girls between eight and 17 had asked him to train them too.

The difficulty with teaching girls, though, was making sure they stayed safe from the traditionalists within Pakistani society. Some merely disapprove of women playing sports, but others respond with violence. Just a month after the boxing club opened, a religious student group at a Karachi university campus assaulted female students for playing cricket. Qambrani hoped that keeping the girls' training strictly indoors and allowing them to practice in head scarves, if they wished, would protect them. So far, the only attacks that that these girls have experienced have taken place in the boxing ring.

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