Lina Fayyad: MMA champion, gym owner and mountain climber

(Photos: Handouts from Lina Fayyad)
(Photos: Handouts from Lina Fayyad)
AMMAN — When speaking about Jordanian women’s participation in martial arts, it’s impossible to ignore Lina Fayyad, the 31-year-old Jordanian champion.اضافة اعلان

“I began practicing MMA in 2012, after previously practicing kickboxing and taekwondo,” recalled Fayyad in an interview with Jordan News. “My beginnings in this sport were not easy, especially given that I am Jordan’s lone female fighter. As a result, I found it challenging to prove myself at first.”

But gender stereotypes and backlash did not stop her from rising through the ranks of Jordan’s martial arts scene and winning the World Professional Arab Boxing Championship that took place in Amman, in addition to her recent victory in a professional match in the Abu Dhabi Championship.

Fayyad hails from a family of sportsmen and women: Her father was a boxer and her mother was an athlete as well. They supported her as she trained for such challenging sports such as martial arts. She graduated from the University of Jordan with a degree in English, but her passion for sports and boxing drove her to study sports online at the American University, after which she opened her own women’s martial arts gym.

Like many of her fellow athletes, the pandemic altered Fayyad’s usual routine.  “The preparation process was not complete because of COVID’s repercussions. It took me off training for a long time,” she said. “In the last championship in Abu Dhabi, I camped for 45 days in Jordan and 15 days in Dubai. She added that despite the time taken off from her usual training regimen due to the pandemic, she won several medals and bands for her weight class in various tournaments. On two separate occasions, she was named the Arab world kickboxing champion.

But Fayyad’s was not an overnight success. “Because I am the only woman who practices this sport (professionally) in Jordan, I do not get as much support as men do,” she said. “So it is difficult for athletes who devote their lives to raising the Jordanian flag in international events to continue in the absence of support.”

The athlete, who seeks to become a certified trainer, also has interests outside of her MMA career. “I love animals and care for them a lot, like cats and dogs,” she said, adding that she also enjoys “driving, camping in the desert, and climbing mountains.”

 “Do not let anyone stand in the path of achieving your dreams, and do not let anyone underestimate your abilities... Everyone has a goal, and you must commit to reaching it.”

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