Ruqsana Begum fights Ilsury Hendricks on the Xplosion bill

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Muay Thai boxer Ruqsana Begum is set to fight in front of one of the biggest crowds of her career as part of the Xplosion bill at the O2 Arena on Saturday, March 31.

The 28-year-old from Ilford takes on Dutch opponent Ilsury Hendricks at the 2,350-capactity IndigO2 for an international belt over five two-minute rounds.

With the night’s headline bout scheduled to be Craig Jose defending his WMC MAD title against WMC European champion Michael Wakeling, a hefty crowd is anticipated to gather in North Greenwich.

Begum, a British champion in her weight category, has taken the decision to snub a shot at the European title in favour of the high-profile fight and hopes increased local support will justify her choice.

“Because it’s a different body I can’t fight for the European title, but I couldn’t turn down the chance to fight in such a big venue in London,” said Begum, a part-time science technician at Swanlea School.

“I’ve fought in Doncaster before in front of 1,000 people, but I didn’t get a lot of support because of where it was, so I’m hoping to get a lot more support this time.

“My sponsors, the Canary Wharf Group, Pride of Asia and Sweaty Betty Clothing, have all expressed an interest to come and support me and having them in my corner makes a big difference.”

Begum will be banking on victory to set her up for an important year, which includes entry to the European Championships in Turkey and the World Championships in Russia.

In the sport where kicks, punches, elbows and knee strikes are perfectly legal, Begum hopes her speed in the ring will be enough to see her through against Hendricks.

“She’s a very strong boxer, so it will be important to get in and out, to not stand in front of her for too long,” said Begum, who teaches Muay Thai every Monday at the Lions Den Gym in Chadwell Heath.

“I need to be driving in and then getting out of the way. My speed is my strength, I’m quite fast, so I’m stepping up the work I do on the counter in training.”

For ticket details e-mail: ruqsanabegum2k@hotmail.com

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