Solely Inspirational Series : In Conversation with Ruqsana Begum
Ruqsana Begum has had quite a journey from being the only woman in her gym as a teenager to winning the title of World Kickboxing champion in 2015 and embarking on a career in professional boxing. Growing up in Bethnal Green – just down the road from our East London HQ! – Ruqsana turned her kickboxing hobby into a professional career, now both her confidence and her trophy cabinet are overflowing.
These days, she’s using her voice for change, believing that if her journey can inspire just one woman it will be worth it. We sat down for a chat with Ruqsana to discuss our shared goal of inspiring women.
Failing is a normal part of the 21st century
Any successful woman knows failure comes with the territory – whether your working day is in a corner office in a law firm, or training for two hours a day in a boxing ring. Sometimes, it takes a while to join the dots, and figure out why this is happening to you.
“Failure is a crucial part of success – if you don’t fail, how can you truly appreciate success?” Poses Ruqsana. Even for a sportswoman as talented as Ruqsana – losing fights is inevitable. How you cope with failure is just as important as succeeding.
“It’s OK to have a bad day and think ‘OK tonight I’m going to cry’,” says Ruqsana “But the day after, I’m going to pick myself up and carry on with my journey.”
How Ruqsana’s tearing up the rule book
We all know the challenges women face when dedicating every day to their purpose.
For Ruqsana, she remembers her early training days and how she first started breaking gender stereotype barriers. “It was so hard to walk into the gym! It was full of average men, taking up a new sport for a hobby or generally keeping fit.”.
How does Ruqsana Begum keep her calm working in a male-dominated world?
As a petite 5’3, Muslim woman, Ruqsana didn’t fit into the typical gym crowd. But she persevered, overcoming the obstacles of feeling intimidated to become an inspiration in female fitness. “For any passion, for any gender, the principles are the same – staying disciplined, focused, and keeping that self-belief.”
Even in 2020, as women, we can be overlooked in the workplace. Sexism is real! Following her successful Muay Thai career, Ruqsana made the switch to professional boxing in 2018.
By honing into a different sport, she is continuing to inspire women to get into fitness. “Working in a male-dominated world, I’m using a lot of masculine energy to earn respect,” she explains. “Keeping my boundaries and remaining strong is important to me”.
Empowering and inspiring women is the core of our brand, and Ruqsana’s. To help more women become confident in the workplace, we teamed up with SmartWorks, read more about the collaboration here.
Finally, how does a professional boxer find comfortable and professional shoes?
Of course, we had to ask! High heels and the gym might not mix – but in a job with glam events and press nights, Ruqsana still needs comfortable and professional shoes.
“Obviously, I spend a lot of time wearing trainers. But I’m still a sucker for high heels!” beams Ruqsana.
“I look for quality, something that’s going to last. I would rather have one pair of something I love than ten pairs of shoes I only wear sometimes. I really love earthy tones – nudes, beige and pinks. They really ground me.”
A quick scroll through Ruqsana’s Instagram confirms her love of shoes – especially a pointed-toe stiletto! Traditionally, a pair of pointed-toe stilettos can be a nightmare. As Ruqsana explains, they come with squashed toes which can be painful, maybe even causing blisters.
Design your own shoes!
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The end result? A pair of comfortable and professional shoes, that can take you from day to night pain-free.
Start designing a pair of comfortable and professional shoes today.
Ruqsana’s best selling book ‘Born Fighter’ is available here.