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Khaoula Oubraim, a female Moroccan kickboxer against life’s uppercuts

Kickboxing champion Khaoula Oubraim went through difficult times during her childhood. The hardships she encountered did not deviate her from succeeding and becoming a champion.

Khaoula Oubraim, 23, martial artist. / DR
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Khaoula Oubraim's love for kickboxing was born amid special circumstances. It all started when a kickboxing gym opened next to house where she lives in Ait Melloul (15 kilometers south of Agadir). «I was 17 years old when my mother suggested that I sign up for a kickboxing class there, which I immediately accepted», she told Yabiladi.

In addition to her training, Khaoula was studying. After graduating high school, she went to university and earned a bachelor degree in law in 2019. With a degree in hand, she decided to carry out a career in kickboxing and muay thai (Thai boxing). «I have always loved being active. I couldn't see myself siting behind a desk. But I had to get my university degree», she explained.

During her last year at university, this Moroccan champion received, in fact, additional training in the field of physical sport, in order to obtain a sports coaching certificate. She knew she would need it later.

Early obstacles in her early career

But before obtaining these certificates, success was not always there for the young sportswoman. Indeed, Khaoula recalls that her coach at the gym chose her to participate in the junior muay thai championship in which she failed completely. «I was just starting out and I was unprepared. I lost every game I played that year», she admitted.

Lack of family support exacerbated the situation. Whenever she came home, she would hear frustrating words that made her «disappointment» worse.

«I was not receiving support from my family at the time, rather encouraging me to quit the sport. ‘You go there to expose yourself to the punches of others’ they told me».

Khaoula Oubraim

Luckily, Khaoula had her mother’s support, which was unconditional despite her several losses. «It was, for my mother, this dream that her eldest son did not realize (...) I became her glimmer of hope», the athlete said.

However, the path was obviously not easy for a girl, in a field hitherto dominated by boys. Khaoula admits, moreover, to have been harassed several times by her coaches. «I was a minor and I knew nothing at the time. I was really young», she said.

In fact, during her first year at that gym, she was sexually harassed by two coaches. «They tried to exploit my innocence and my young age. I was afraid, so I told my mother what happened and she forbade from going there», she recalls. The mother of the Moroccan champion then enrolled her in another gym, notably in Dcheira El Jihadia (10 kilometers south of Agadir).

«So I used to go there on an old motorbike which, on several occasions, broke down in the middle of the road. In addition, I traveled daily between the two cities and that forced me to save money to buy fuel, which was a burden for my mom».

Khaoula Oubraim

Deprived of a first participation in a world competition because of the Covid-19

As the days went by, her mother found it difficult to cover her daily expenses, but the athlete remained determined. «I started to commute between the two cities by foot. On my way, I repeatedly encountered thieves and attackers and despite this I did not give up», she proudly said. However, she still remembers her colleagues who refused to accompany her home, «because they believed that a girl's place is in the house and not with them».

All of these difficulties that Khaoula Oubraim faced at the start of his career finally paid off. After receiving extensive training from her new coach, she participated in the National Kickboxing Championship in 2015, ranking second.

In the following years, she won other titles : Moroccan Muay Thai Championship in 2016, Moroccan Muay Thai Championship, Kickboxing and K1 in 2017, then the title of Moroccan Champion in K1 in 2018. Winning encouraged her family to back her and to believe in her talent.

However, the social situation of the young champion led her to stop participating in championships. Thanks to the sports training certificate she obtained, Khaoula found a job as a female kickboxing coach, in one of the most famous sports halls in Morocco. «I needed a daily income to help my family», she says.

In addition, her plans were turned upside down by the health crisis caused by the pandemic of the new coronavirus. It was last March that this Moroccan champion was supposed to take part in the Muay Thai World Championships in Thailand. «It would have been my first participation in the world», regrets this athlete who now offers distance training in live video.

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