Women Just Got OK'd To Watch Sports In Iran, But This Female Motocross Rider Is Beating The Odds

She started riding as a teenager.

Behnaz Shafiei lives in one of the most difficult countries to be a woman, but that isn't stopping her doing what she loves: motocross. 

The 26-year-old Iranian has been riding since she was a teenager and, according to her coach, motocross champion and freestyle motorcycle rider Rasoul Najafi, is very talented. But there's a problem. She's not allowed to compete as a motocross athlete in Iran. 

In fact, Iran just recently declared women were even allowed to attend some (not all) sporting events, so competing is just out of the question. Shafiei, who says many men are shocked when they see her take the course, has been invited to compete in other countries, but lacks the funds to do so. 

"She is very talented and can reach very high. But she needs better facilities and more sponsorship to advance further," Najafi told CNN. 

Still, that isn't deterring Shafiei from doing what she loves, even with the stares from men that come along with it. 


"There are some groups of men, when they see us they say, 'You should stay at home and cook — this sport is not for you.' It makes me so mad, so I want to prove them wrong," she said.

According to the Associated Press, she and five other female riders were the reason the Iran's Motorcycle and Automobile Federation first allowed women to ride on amateur tracks. 

For her, there was no other option. 

"Sometimes, I think to myself, 'How did people in the past live without a motorbike?' Is life without a motorcycle possible?" she told AP. 

Through her and the other women's efforts, she hopes to inspire other girls and women to follow their dreams, despite roadblocks. Even she has a long ways to go before being accepted as an equal athlete in Iran. 

"My goal is to be a pioneer to inspire other women," she said. "Together, we can convince authorities to recognize women's motorcycle racing."

We're right behind you.


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.