New York wrestler Latifah McBryde’s dream to compete at the highest level must be paused because the competition’s requirements collide with her beliefs.
McBryde, a devoted Muslim, earned a spot to represent the United States at the Pan-American Women’s Wrestling Championships in Mexico earlier this month. However, she declined the opportunity as the international governing body requires her to wear the traditional form-fitting singlets.
The main reason for she had to drop out for is the clash between singlets and her religion’s teachings.
In Islam, women are required to cover their entire bodies with loose-fitting clothes and a scarf over their hair. McBryde also added that she won’t ever wear just a singlet, a skin-tight leotard-type garment that leaves the arms, legs, shoulders, and neck exposed.
In all of her wrestling career, McBryde always wore sweatpants, a baggy T-shirt, and a hood-like head cover. Despite the extra layers, she successfully finished in second place at the national women’s championship in Texas, earning her a spot to compete at Pan-American Championships.
Before turning down the opportunity, McBryde has appealed to the United World Wrestling for a waiver from its singlet requirement. However, it was denied stating in a letter that that kind of modification must be tested first.
UWW Secretary General Carlos Roy said McBryde’s proposed uniform should be “tested in real conditions” at “lower level competitions, but certainly not in a continental championship.” He also added that other wrestlers should be consulted on whether alternative uniforms “would affect their techniques and their preparation.”
With that response, McBryde decided to stay home and refuse to compete.
“My goals are built around my religion,” she said. “I’ve built everything around my religion, so it’s not something I’m going to compromise on.”
McBryde’s father, Mustafa, who is also a high school and collegiate wrestler, has said that alternative uniforms aren’t giving the person wearing them any advantages. And, if anything, their opponents wearing singlets may benefit by having more clothing to grip onto, he said.
McBryde wants to keep wrestling and continues to seek a waiver for her to compete with apparel that conforms with her religion. Nearly 12,000 people have signed an online petition supporting McBryde and urging the UWW to reconsider.
Luthfi Prawiro is a writer based in Jakarta, Indonesia. He has a strong passion for combat sports and a BA in Psychology. His undergraduate thesis was on the Sports Psychology of MMA.