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The 27-year-old returned from Latvia with European crown

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British Muay-Thai boxing champion Ruqsana Begum added the European Club Championship to her ever-growing collection of silverware last week – but fears a lack of funding will spoil her dreams of winning the world title.

The 27-year-old from Ilford recently returned from Latvia where she beat an opponent from Finland in the semi-final and a Turkish opponent in the final to take top honours in the -48kg category.

But Begum, who trains at the KO Gym in Bethnal Green, fears the mounting cost of travelling to events and a lack of sponsorship could deny her a shot at world glory.

“I’m now working towards the World Championships in Uzbekistan in September, but it could cost me £1,000 to go out there, with the cost of flights and hotels, so I really need a sponsor,” she said.

“There is no government funding to train to this level, so I work part-time, two days a week as a science technician at Swanlea School in Whitechapel and train alongside that.

“I train six times a week, it’s tough, but I enjoy it and would never want to give it up. But with no funding it’s hard to keep it going.”

As well as balancing training and competing with work commitments, Begum also finds the time to work as an instructor one night a week.

She teaches her beloved combat sport, where punches, kicks, elbows and knee strikes are all perfectly legal, one night week at the Lions Den Gym in Goodmayes.

And there’s seemingly no end to Begum’s talents, who is also a qualified architect, but admits Muay Thai comes first.

“I like to give something back to the sport and to see others maybe go on to do what I’ve done,” she said.

“Architecture is on hold, while I’m working part-time. I’ve been invited to the King’s Cup in Thailand in November, because I won gold in Latvia and I’m training for a shot at the European title, hopefully I’ll get my chance.”

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