Sabah Saqr is a working mother with a son, who trains about 20 men between the ages of 18 and 30 twice a week in a small gym room in Beni Suef, Egypt.
Located far from the capital and in a city where tradition often limits the role of women, Saqr is fighting off stigma by being a woman coaching men, instead of the other way around.
“I started coaching by accident. I didn’t like it because I was worried about my face, about being hit,” she said.
But her trainer, Captain Meleegi, had seen her fence jumping once and was impressed by her strength, power and energy.
He taught her technical skills and techniques, which would then lead to her winning several championships and over 10 medals.
Two years ago, she decided to stop competing and start coaching instead.
Her students have mentioned that her serious approach to training, as well as her hard training methods, have helped her gain respect and trust from men.
Her experience and excellence have also even helped some students overcome their initial reluctance to be trained by a woman.
“A girl can bring good training, excellent training, just like a man. So there is no need to not accept this. This has to be accepted,” Mohamed Sayed, one of Saqr’s trainees, said.