Maria’s Story

Born a warrior.

Maria Toorpakai Wazir was born in the tribal area of Pakistan where the Taliban are dominant, and where most girls are prohibited from playing sports and even getting an education. Maria wanted both.

With the support of her loving parents, Maria was able to defy social expectations and stereotypes to become an advocate for educational equity and a world class squash player. But it hasn’t been easy.

For most of her young life in Pakistan, Maria had to dress and act like a boy. At age four she cut her hair, burned her dresses, and changed her name to Genghis Khan. When she was found out at the age of 12, Maria was harassed by villagers, faced threats from the Taliban, and was confined to her house until Jonathon Power, another world squash champion, answered one of her many pleas for assistance.

It’s clear that nothing will stop Maria from reaching her dreams on and off the court. Her biggest dream now is to ensure all children—boys and girls alike—in Pakistan and elsewhere can also realize their own dreams.

For more, read Maria’s biography, A Different Kind of Daughter or watch the documentary about her life, The War to Be Her.

I was born a regular tribal girl, unable to leave the house. Today, I’m a professional squash player, determined to bring positive change to the world.
— Maria Toorpakai Wazir