Thursday, 08 February, 2018

The Iranian Woman who Wants to be World Motocross Champion


Behnaz Shafiei is an Iranian woman motocross racer who dreams of one day becoming world champion, in a sport dominated by men.

Although Women are banned from riding motorcycles in public in Iran, Behnaz is working hard to break the status quo.

The 26-year-old has been motocross riding for the past fifteen years in Iran.

In a country where motorbike riding in public is illegal for women, Shafiei’s dedication to her sport can be considered a revolutionary act. Shafiei is regularly mistaken for a man while motocross riding – a misconception that speaks volumes about preconceived notions of women’s capabilities in the world of sport.


While Shafiei has achieved groundbreaking success – she is one of six women in Iran granted permission to ride on off road circuits – there is more work to be done until women can be in possession of a license.

“When two days pass and I do not ride my motorcycle, I get really ill,” Shafiei told BBC in June during a ride on the outskirts of Iran’s capital, Tehran. “Even the thought of not having a motorcycle some day gives me an awful feeling.

“Sometimes, I think to myself, ‘how did people in the past live without a motorbike?’ Is life without a motorcycle possible?”

Mahnaz Rahimi, a local watching on said:”I did not know that it was a woman riding until I noticed her hair. It took me by surprise that a woman can be so courageous.”


Despite the current challenges, Behnaz dreams of one day becoming world champion, BBC’s correspondent Kim Ghattas reported in an interview with Iranian woman motocross.

Ghattas, who has spent the past week in Iran for the BBC, went to meet her.

“If it becomes legal for women in Iran to motocross race in Iran, and the difficulties concerning sponsorship are overcome, then we can hope for the best.” Behnaz said in an interview with Dazeddigital.

“Today in Iran, I have achieved something that many men could never achieve. In Iran, there is no man that can ride both on road and off road professionally, whereas I have achieved professional status in both.” She added.


Dazeddigital quoted Behnaz as saying: “I am here to pave the way for women who want to take part in this sport. I will challenge the present difficulties in order to make it easier for other women in the future. Hopefully they will also prosper as a result of my success.”

“I believe that with all of the attributes assigned to the female gender, such as beauty and delicateness, an image of a strong and fearless female riding a motorbike has a significant effect on people’s preconceived notions of men as the strong and powerful ones.” She replied to a question.

“My childhood dream has always been to be world champion in motorbike riding. However, because this sport is lacking sponsorship, coaches, and facilities for practice, it means that I have to work that much harder in order to achieve my dream.”


Behnaz Shafiei and her family

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