April 15, 2024

World champion boxer Ramla Ali on the importance of breaking down stereotypes

However, being a female boxer in a traditionally male-dominated environment has its setbacks. “People always assume if you box, you must look manly or at least unfeminine and that’s wrong,” she emphasises.

In a bid to break down such stereotypes, Ramla has partnered with Pantene on the Power of Hair campaign to demonstrate why beauty and boxing are not mutually exclusive.

From Somalian refugee to world champion boxer, Ramla Ali has certainly defied all odds. The London-based athlete first took up boxing aged 13 in a bid to improve her fitness, but it was not long before her exceptional talent was noticed and she was set for stardom. Over a decade later and Ramla is one of the world’s most talented female boxers with several championships and a consequent sponsorship deal with Nike (joining the likes of Serena Williams, Simone Biles and Mo Farah) under her belt.

Here, Ramla opens up about her beauty routine in and out of the ring, how she finally learnt to accept her body and why more women need to start boxing. Gloves at the ready!

“Boxing has made me feel more empowered than ever before”

Boxing has played an enormous role in feeling empowered. Before boxing, I was very self conscious of my appearance, particularly my weight. I didn’t look like everyone else but boxing has allowed me to be an individual and learn to love my body for how it is. I now see myself and hold myself with so much confidence.

“There are so many misconceptions about female boxing”

People always assume if you box, you start looking manly or at least unfeminine and that’s wrong. With any sports, especially weight based ones, everyone will always end up looking different because not everyone has the same body frame. I love my body and I certainly wouldn’t say it was masculine.

“It’s so great to see more women embracing boxing but we still have a way to go”

When I first started boxing, I was the only woman in the gym. Female boxing literally wasn’t heard of. At the gym I trained in, there were no changing facilities for women so after each session, I had to wait for all the men to shower and change before I could go in. That would often take an hour and a half. Whereas now it’s so much better. There are so many more women-friendly gyms. Something as small as having female changing rooms with essential products like tampons and deodorant encourages women to get involved and know it’s not an intimidating environment.

“I train twice a day, six days a week”

It will be a 10am session that lasts 2 hours and then another two hour session at 4pm. I have three different coaches – one for boxing, cardio and strength and conditioning.

“My beauty routine is fairly low maintenance”

My training routine is really hardcore so I don’t have time for an extensive beauty routine but I’m obsessive about exfoliating and applying coconut oil to my skin everyday. Boxing gloves are filthy and they are constantly touching your face which can cause breakouts so I always thoroughly exfoliate and put a nice mask on.

“A blow dry is my ultimate feel-good treat”

My hair empowers me in so many ways. When I’m in the ring, I always have it braided. I’ve styled it like this for so long that I’ve become superstitious. If it’s not braided, I fear something bad will happen. Then when a competition is over, I’ll take the braids out and treat myself to a blow dry. It’s my ultimate feel-good treat. The feeling of treating myself through my hair really empowers me.

“It took me a long time to embrace my natural curls and afro”

My relationship with my hair was not good for a very long time. I barely ever saw myself represented on TV or in the media so I’d constantly straighten my hair which caused a lot of damage to it. People would always comment on how amazing my curls were but it took years of people saying it to believe it. Now I fully embrace my natural hair.

My top hair care products are…

The Pantene Gold Series Leave-In conditioner is my go-to because it leaves my hair feeling so smooth and gets rid of all the frizz. Once I’ve washed and conditioned my hair, I love using the Pantene Leave-On Detangling Milk. I have so much hair and it can be hard work trying to get rid of the mess. Chuck a load of the detangling milk in and you’ll feel like a different person afterwards. It’s a miracle worker.

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