Squash star takes on the Taliban

James Montague at CNN:

Art.pakay.cnnChingaiz Khan was an unknown quantity when he arrived for a junior weightlifting tournament in South Waziristan nine years ago.

Chaotic and intensely religious, the Pakistani region is known by locals as “the most dangerous place in the world.”

The 12-year-old Chingaiz, with his short, jet-black hair and smooth, unblemished skin, looked younger than the other boys. But, despite it being his first ever tournament, he was still stronger than everyone else.

For his father Shams-Ul Wazir, a local college lecturer, the decision to register his son for the tournament paid off handsomely.

Chingaiz was crowned the junior boys' weightlifting champion, the first step on a journey that would take him into the world of professional sport.

Except Chingaiz wasn't really his name.

Chingaiz was actually called Maria Toor Pakay.

Chingaiz was a girl.

“I suggested the name of Chingaiz Khan for her since she had always been like a boy,” explained Al Wazir in an interview with HBO. “She liked the name very much.”

This isn't a story of deception, but rather a tale of necessity.

Maria Toor Pakay is Pakistan's number one squash player, ranked 49th in the world. She also comes from an ultra conservative region in Pakistan that is home to the Taliban.

More here.