Ibtihaj Muhammad

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Ibtihaj Muhammad
Ibtihaj Muhammad 2014-15 Orleans WC teams t130543.jpg
Ibtihaj Muhammad in 2014
Personal information
Country represented  United States
Born (1985-12-04) December 4, 1985 (age 31)
Maplewood, New Jersey, US
Residence New York, New York, US
Weapon(s) Sabre
Hand Right
Height 1.70 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight 66 kg (146 lb; 10.4 st)
Club Peter Westbrook Foundation
Head coach(es) Ed Korfanty
Personal coach(es) Akhi Spencer-El
FIE Ranking Current ranking

Ibtihaj Muhammad (born December 4, 1985) is an American sabre fencer, and a member of the United States fencing team. She is best known for being the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics.[1] In individual sabre at the 2016 Summer Olympics, she won her first qualifying round bout, and was defeated in the second round by Cécilia Berder of France. She earned the bronze medal as part of Team USA in the Team Sabre, becoming the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics.

Early life[edit]

Muhammad was born and raised in Maplewood, New Jersey, a suburb 25 miles (40 km) from Manhattan, and is of African-American descent.[2][3] Her parents were born in the United States, and converted to Islam.[4][5] Her father, Eugene Muhammad, is a retired Newark, New Jersey police officer, and her mother, Denise, was an elementary school special education teacher.[3][6][7][7] She has four siblings.[3]

In accordance with their belief in what was proper dress for a Muslim woman, Muhammad’s parents sought out a sport for her to participate in in which she could be fully covered and wear a hijab.[8]

Muhammad attended Columbia High School, a public high school in Maplewood, graduating in 2003.[8][9][10]

In 2007, Muhammad graduated from Duke University with dual bachelor's degrees in international relations and African and African-American studies.[11]

Fencing career[edit]

At Columbia High School, she joined the school fencing team at age 13, fencing under coach Frank Mustilli, now the head and owner of the New Jersey Fencing Alliance.[12][13] Mustilli had her switch weapons, from épée to sabre.[13][14]

In late 2002, Muhammad joined the prestigious Peter Westbrook Foundation, a program which utilizes the sport of fencing as a vehicle to develop life skills in young people from underserved communities. She was invited to train under the Westbrook Foundation's Elite Athlete Program in New York City. She is coached by former PWF student and 2000 Sydney Olympian Akhi Spencer-El.[15]

Muhammad attended Duke University, where she received a scholarship.[16] She was a 3-time All-American and the 2005 Junior Olympic Champion.[17][18] Muhammad graduated from Duke University in 2007 with an International Relations and African American Studies double major.[5][19]

Muhammad has been a member of the United States National Fencing Team since 2010. She as of 2016 ranks No. 2 in the United States and No. 8 in the world. She is a 5-time Senior World medalist, including 2014 World Champion in the team event.[20]

2016 Summer Olympics[edit]

Muhammad was defeated by Cécilia Berder of France in the second round in the Women’s Individual Sabre in the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Summer Olympics.[6][21] Despite the loss, she attracted significant media attention.[22]

She is best known for being the first woman to wear a hijab while competing for the United States in the Olympics.[23] American-born and raised Sarah Attar had run in the 2012 Olympics with her hair covered, in keeping with a request that she do so to respect Islamic law by Saudi Arabia, for whom she ran on the basis of her father having been born in Saudi Arabia.[24]

Muhammad became the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn a medal at the Olympics.[citation needed] She earned a bronze medal in the Team Sabre, along with Monica Aksamit, Dagmara Wozniak, and Mariel Zagunis, by defeating Italy 45-30 in the medal match. This came after defeating Poland 45-43, and losing to Russia 42-45.

Muhammad at the Sarah Bonnell School in London, UK

As symbol of America's diversity and tolerance[edit]

The 2016 Summer Olympics occurred during the U.S. Presidential campaign in which questions of Muslim assimilation were being discussed, including with respect to U.S.-born Muslims.[citation needed] Muhammad as visibly Muslim (due to her hijab) became "one of the best symbols against intolerance America can ever have", according to The Guardian.[25] However, Ibtihaj drew some criticism during the Olympics by describing the United States as a dangerous place for Muslims, saying that she did "not feel safe" as a Muslim living in America.[26]

Detainment[edit]

In December 2016, Muhammad was detained by U.S. customs.[27]

Other activities[edit]

In 2014, Muhammad and her siblings launched their own clothing company, Louella, which aims to bring modest fashionable clothing to the United States market.[4] She is also a sports ambassador, serving on the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sport Initiative. She has traveled to various countries to engage in dialogue on the importance of sports and education.[28][29]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Storm, Hannah (12 August 2011). "Muslim fencer has it all covered". ESPN.com. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  2. ^ "U.S. Olympic Athletes Ibtihaj Muhammad". Archived from the original on November 26, 2011. Retrieved December 25, 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Meet Ibtihaj Muhammad, the history-making Olympian who called out SXSW for telling her to remove her hijab". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  4. ^ a b Adams, Jonathan (2016-08-05). "Ibtihaj Muhammad: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  5. ^ a b Carpenter, Les (2016-03-10). "Ibtihaj Muhammad: the US fencing star out to challenge intolerance and hate". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  6. ^ a b Hines, Nico (2016-08-09). "U.S. Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad's Dad: Women Should Never Argue With Men". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  7. ^ a b "A New Face for Team USA | TIME For Kids". www.timeforkids.com. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  8. ^ a b Berg, Aimee (24 June 2011). "Fencer With Headscarf Is a Cut Above the Rest". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  9. ^ Khakpour, Porochista. "Rio Olympics: Ibtihaj Muhammad Is America's Olympic Game Changer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  10. ^ "Jocelyn Willoughby and Charlotte O'Leary are 'Essex Award' recipients". 2016-05-24. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  11. ^ "Ibtihaj Muhammad". Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  12. ^ Berg, Aimee (2011-06-24). "Fencer With Headscarf Is a Cut Above the Rest". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  13. ^ a b "Carter: Maplewood woman could be first American Muslim to wear hijab while competing at Olympics". Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  14. ^ "Maplewood Fencing Sisters Among Nation's Elite". Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  15. ^ "Who is Ibtihaj Muhammad?". Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  16. ^ "A Muslim fencer broke stereotypes, but now she wants Olympic gold". 2016-07-29. Retrieved 2016-08-11. 
  17. ^ Ibtihaj Muhammad (4 December 1985). "Ibtihaj Muhammad Bio - Duke University Blue Devils | Official Athletics Site". GoDuke.com. Retrieved 10 March 2016. 
  18. ^ Khakpour, Porochista. "Rio Olympics: Ibtihaj Muhammad Is America's Olympic Game Changer". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 August 2016. 
  19. ^ "U.S. Olympic Athletes sabre Ibtihaj Muhammad". Archived from the original on December 30, 2011. Retrieved 25 December 2011. 
  20. ^ Hafez, Shamoon (August 8, 2016). "Rio Olympics 2016: Ibtihaj Muhammad on hijab, Donald Trump & Muhammad Ali". BBC Sport. Retrieved August 8, 2016. 
  21. ^ Editor, Amber Ferguson Associate Politics Video; Post, The Huffington (8 August 2016). "Ibtihaj Muhammad Didn't Win A Medal, Still Scored An Olympic Victory". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  22. ^ "Muhammad out - but media won't let hijab-wearing American go quietly". independent.co.uk. Independent. 8 August 2016. Retrieved 10 August 2016. 
  23. ^ "Muslim fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad has it all covered". Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  24. ^ Barker, Sarah. "The Complicated Story Of American Olympians And The Hijab". Retrieved August 20, 2016. 
  25. ^ Les Carpenter, "Ibtihaj Muhammad stoic in defeat: 'I feel proud to represent Team USA'", The Guardian, 2016-08-08
  26. ^ "Interview with Ibtihaj Muhammad", The Daily Beast, 2016-08-08
  27. ^ Olympic Athlete Ibtihaj Muhammad Speaks Out After She Was Detained by U.S. Customs, Time, February 13, 2017
  28. ^ "E:60 Ibtihaj Muhammad - E:60: Ibtihaj Muhammad's American Olympic dream - ESPN Video". Retrieved August 5, 2016. 
  29. ^ "Ibtihaj Muhammad, Olympic trailblazer - ESPN Video". Retrieved August 5, 2016. 

External links[edit]