Sports

Female Pakistani Squash Player Maria Toorpakai Breaks Gender Barriers

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toorpakay

"When I fight, people listen to me." That's how 22-year-old Maria Toorpakai responded when the BBC program Outlook recently asked her why she got into so many dust-ups with boys when she was younger.

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The truth is, Toorpakai's always balked against the strict rules normally imposed on girls in her home, the Waziristan region of Pakistan.

"My mom always dressed me like a girl, like with frocks and pony tails. One day I told my parents I don't want to be like this."

Her father decided to support her by allowing her to participate in sports. She posed as a boy, called Genghis Khan, and ended up weightlifting and eventually getting into squash, which is immensely popular in Pakistan.

She and her family have braved death threats in order for her to pursue her dream. Currently, she's in Canada training with squash great Jonathon Power.