THE FIRST FEMALE MUSLIM AMERICAN TO MEDAL AT THE OLYMPIC GAMES
Growing up in New Jersey as the only African American Muslim at school, Ibtihaj Muhammad always had to find her own way. When she discovered fencing, a sport traditionally reserved for the wealthy, she had to defy expectations and make a place for herself in a sport she grew to love.
From winning state championships to three-time All-America selections at Duke University, Ibtihaj was poised for success, but the fencing community wasn’t ready to welcome her with open arms just yet. As the only woman of color and the only religious minority on Team USA’s saber fencing squad, Ibtihaj had to chart her own path to success and Olympic glory.
Proud is a moving coming-of-age story from one of the nation’s most influential athletes and illustrates how she rose above it all.
Muhammad (U.S. Olympics bronze medalist), with writer Tharps (Same Family, Different Colors), describes her journey to becoming a champion fencer in this memoir that aims to challenge the stereotypes and prejudices she encounters every day. From an early age, the author was aware that her African American heritage and her Muslim faith differentiated her from her peers; she had to cope with slights, aggressive behavior, and prejudice. After her mother observed that fencers compete in modest dress appropriate for an observant Muslim, Muhammad took up the sport and quickly showed aptitude. She credits her parents’ influence, her own hard work, and the support of the minority fencing community for her championship record. She is not shy about admitting her failures, faults, and setbacks, and recounts a low period when she quit the sport then truly dedicated herself to it and became a champion, role model, entrepreneur, and activist. This memoir culminates in her historic performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics when she became the first American woman to compete in hijab. VERDICT Highly recommended for readers interested in sports or inspirational memoirs.—Rebekah Kati, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“What a clear-eyed and amazing memoir…. I plowed through it…. Ibtihaj’s story is at once so deeply personal and amazingly universal.”—Jacqueline Woodson, National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn
“Her story is inspiring and illuminating.”—The Christian Science Monitor
“A tumultuous, unforgettable tale of perseverance and faith.”—The Chicago Tribune
“[Ibtihaj’s] stories of fighting racism and xenophobia are inspiring… but Muhammad’s battles with her own demons are equally brave and 100 percent relatable.”—Glamour.com
“Ibtihaj Muhammad is as sharp with her words as she is with a sabre.”—The National (United Arab Emirates)
“Fencing made her who she is today, but fencing isn’t her only narrative. Her journey is one of authenticity at all costs and being unapologetically herself.”
“A powerful sentiment that sums up not only her own struggles, but those of so many minorities in America.”
—The Daily Beast