a Dubai-based TV host and voice artist Shadia Bseiso has become the first Arab woman to sign with the American entertainment company – World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
IFTIKHAR RAHAT: Talent can never be anyone’s sole domain, it keeps emerging in others too. Despite traditional, cultural and values binding, within most of the Arab World, with the passage of time we noticed reasonable changes in Arab Women, like openly participating in various social events and even sports.
Women’s wrestling has a long and illustrious history that has spanned over a century of ups and downs. The constant struggle to gain mainstream respect while navigating the historically misogynistic world of professional wrestling has created a tantalizing account of success and failure—a unique tale of perseverance that male wrestling could never equate. With more public support than ever, women’s wrestling seems to be in a great place to grow in the coming years.
It has come a long way in the last few years, and while those close to the sport are happy to see the progress. The audience has responded in-turn by becoming much more interested in the women’s matches, and WWE has succeeded in changing the fans’ attitudes towards female wrestlers.
Men and women sometimes do not like to see muscular, unfeminine women acting against their gender roles. However, on the other side of the coin, and often in smaller-scale versions of the sport, some see the growth in female wrestlers as a positive break from undesired tradition.
Women wrestlers find themselves wanting to be strong for their own safety and self-confidence. A growth in female wrestlers may be a result of laws and regulations put in place to counteract gender discrimination in sports.A large number of women wrestlers on all levels are introduced to the sport by a male relative or friend.
Shadia Bseiso has become the first Arab woman to sign with the American entertainment company – World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). With the help of specialized wrestling and cardio trainers, the 31-year-old Jordanian is taking her training program at WWE’s Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
The young athlete has also been taking acting instructions, and hopes that soon she will crush her rivals inside the ring.
Bseiso, who holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the American University of Beirut, has much experience in the entertainment industry where she has worked as a TV host, a voice over artist and events presenter, in addition to running a privately owned media company based in Dubai.
In 2014, she was debuted in the world of martial arts as a professional jiu-jitsu athlete. Since then Bseiso has been participating in several jiu-jitsu competitions and currently holds a blue belt with three stripes, CNN reported.
The presenter-turned-wrestler has just made history after becoming the first Arab woman from the Middle East to join the WWE, the world’s biggest wrestling promotion.
“It’s a privilege,” the 31-year-old says, “but it’s also a responsibility… so I feel a lot of pressure, but in a good way. When I step into a WWE ring I feel like I will be representing the Middle East, not just women
“Over four years I did 16 competitions,” she says of her fighting history. “For 13 of them I was on the podium, for either gold, silver, or bronze.”
When I step into a WWE ring I feel like I will be representing the Middle East, not just women from the Middle East.
Somewhere in her interview, Bseiso said, she began to talk about much she enjoyed martial arts — “and that if I wasn’t a full-time [announcer] I would be a full-time athlete.”
That pushed Canyon Ceman, WWE’s senior vice president of international talent development, to offer her a spot in athlete tryouts held earlier this year in Dubai. Bseiso was the only one among 33 other competitors — seven of them women — who wasn’t a full-time athlete.
Growing up in Jordan, Bseiso had only a passing knowledge of WWE, where she would occasionally see matches broadcast on television or on tapes from video rental stores.
But by the time the WWE tryout had come to Dubai, she had made a name for herself hosting major sporting events like “Desert Force,” a mixed martial arts tournament.
Part of her passion came from her parents, who treated the Bseiso children (three sisters and a brother) as equals and inculcated in them the discipline to excel. Shadia isn’t the family’s first athlete: Arifa is a boxer who recently became one of Nike’s brand ambassadors in the Middle East.
Bseiso’s hiring comes at a time when WWE is mounting a full-scale expansion into markets outside the U.S. and Europe. In 2016, Ceman said, the focus was on China. This year it was the Middle East.
“You see the metrics on social media, and you find we have something like 11 million Facebook followers in Egypt. That’s stuff that makes you go, ‘What? Really?”‘ said Ceman.
That global push has extended to WWE’s growing roster of athletes. One of the reasons for the tryout in the Middle East was to provide characters whom wrestling’s “surprisingly ethnically large and diverse audience … can identify with,” Cemen said.
“We’re looking for size, charisma, work ethic, diversity, language, country of origin … and we train them as sports entertainers from zero,” he said.
As WWE’s first Arab woman, Bseiso said she feels a sense of responsibility.
“It’s something I don’t take lightly,” she said.
“I don’t know wrestling yet, but I’m going to be as good as I can be,” she added. “I’m in this to headline Wrestle mania. I want it all.
Sources: Online Web News Reports