In its basement sanctuary, the boxing ring is, like the altar inside the church above it, sacred.
Within its four roped corners, fighters wash away their past, submit to the present and come clean in the truth of battle where there can only be one winner and one loser.
Tucked under the Annunciation Orthodox Cathedral on Lebreton St. in Ottawa, Final Round Boxing (FRB) is holy ground from some of its more committed fighters.
Aaida “Mombasa” Mamuji, 29, is one of those fighters.
Born in Kuwait, Mamuji has called Canada her home since 1997 and FRB her second home since 2010.
She has eight bouts under her belt and, after a two-year hiatus to focus on her PhD from the University of Ottawa, she is back in the ring competing in the 2014 Silver Gloves tournament in Toronto this weekend.
One look at her resume reveals her academic drive carries as much force as her right cross.
And while she may seem extraordinary, she just says she’s not out of the ordinary, just a tough Muslim–Canadian girl who knows when to sting and when to float.