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12-year-old Hijabi Girl Breaks Barriers, Wins Gold at Jiu-Jitsu Tournament

  • Aaminah Abdrabboh, 12, becomes the first girl to win gold while wearing a hijab at the PAN Kids tournament
  • The hijab ban on International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation competitions was only lifted in 2014
  • The decision spared Muslims girls from having to choose between their faith and their sport

A 12-year-old Muslim girl from Dearborn has become the first to win gold while wearing hijab at the PAN Kids jiu-jitsu tournament held late last month in Kissimmee, Florida.

Like many Muslim girls, Aaminah Abdrabboh was able to don hijab in International Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu Federation competitions only after lifting the hijab ban in 2014.

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“I was super happy because people weren’t allowed to do that, like people who wear a scarf, like a hijab, they weren’t allowed to do that 10 years ago,” Aaminah told Detroit Free Press.

“So, I was happy that I could show people that, with a hijab, you can do anything.”

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The young girl’s success is a chapter in a long story of dedication of her parents, Professor Mohammad Abdrabboh and his wife, Nancy Marini, the co-owners of Metro Jiu-Jitsu in Southgate.

The couple’s daughter Aaminah, and three other children, all compete in the academy of the Brazilian sport, three of them while wearing hijab.  


Mohammad explained that wearing a hijab can put a competitor at a disadvantage because of the nature of jiu-jitsu, but his daughters have learned to adjust and thrive in the sport.

“For somebody wearing a scarf, it’s very common that they have to adjust it and have to take their hand away from being able to intelligently defend themselves to adjust the scarf and that puts you at a major disadvantage,” Mohammad said.

“With all the discipline and hard work, (Aaminah was) able to show that she was better, and she is better, and she did not use that as an excuse that day because it’s a legitimate one.”

Since Aaminah’s victory, the proud mother has exchanged messages on Instagram with Caroline De Lazzer, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt who started a petition in 2011 to lift the hijab ban, to thank her.

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“Whenever there’s a ban in place, it’s not as simple as just turning out a competitor or even a winner, like it really takes sometimes an entire decade to get somebody on board because when people know a door is closed to them, they just don’t even join the sport,” Marini said.

“There’s so many people that could potentially have been winners over the years, but because they knew the ban in place, why would they try?”

Islam sees hijab as an obligatory code of dress, not a religious symbol displaying one’s affiliations.

Several religious, cultural, and ethnic factors determine Muslims’ approach to sport.

In general, Islam promotes good health and fitness and encourages both men and women to engage in physical activity to maintain healthy lifestyles.

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