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Celebrating Maplewood's Ibtihaj Muhammad: 'A Fencing Olympic Champion's Inspiring Journey'


By: Richard L. Smith 

As we conclude RLS Media's 29-day commemoration honoring black figures in New Jersey, we shine a spotlight on the remarkable journey of Ibtihaj Muhammad, a beacon of inspiration and resilience.AdMuhammad's path to fencing began at the age of 12 in Maplewood, where her mother, Denise, sought a sport that would allow her to compete while honoring her Islamic faith.

Little did they know that this decision would pave the way for history to be made.

A member of the United States fencing team, Muhammad rose to prominence as the first Muslim American woman to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

Her journey at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro captured the hearts of millions worldwide.

Though she faced defeat in the second round of the individual sabre competition, Muhammad's unconquerable spirit shone through as she secured a bronze medal as part of Team USA in the Team Sabre event.

Her achievement not only made her a trailblazer in the sport but also marked a historic moment as the first female Muslim-American athlete to earn an Olympic medal.

Born and raised in Maplewood, Muhammad's roots run deep in New Jersey.

With both parents converting to Islam, her upbringing was steeped in faith and resilience. Her father, Eugene Muhammad, a retired Newark police officer, instilled in her the values of determination and perseverance.AdAttending Columbia High School, Muhammad joined the fencing team at age 13 under the guidance of coach Frank Mustilli, who later became the head and owner of the New Jersey Fencing Alliance.

Despite facing challenges and setbacks, Muhammad's dedication to her sport and her faith propelled her to success on the world stage.

Today, as we honor Ibtihaj Muhammad, we celebrate not only her athletic achievements but also her unwavering commitment to breaking barriers and inspiring generations to come.

Her journey is a testament to the power of perseverance, faith, and the pursuit of excellence.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude to all our readers for joining us during our 2024 Black History Month tribute, where we highlighted African American figures who have made significant contributions to New Jersey.

Thank you for your support and engagement.

INFORMATION & IMAGE CREDIT: Wikipedia, Writer Sopan Deb -New York Times

SPONSORS: Nino's Ristorante & Pizzeria, Bergen Street Harrison, NJ, Jorelle Green S. Green (Keller Willams Realtor), Champions of Martial Arts (Union NJ)