Maria Toorpakai Wazir: Hachette Speakers Bureau

Maria Toorpakai Wazir

The Girl Who Hid From The Taliban in Plain Sight

Maria Toorpakai is a professional squash player, currently ranked as Pakistan's top female player and 48th in the world. Growing up in a highly conservative, tribal area of Pakistan -- but within a progressive and permissive family -- Toorpakai spent her early years training, competing, and living as a boy. She went by the name Genghis Khan.

At the podium and in her book, Maria recounts her harrowing journey to play the sport she knew was her destiny. Squash was more than liberation -- it was salvation. But it was also, potentially, a death sentence, thrusting her into the national spotlight and the cross-hairs of the Taliban. Hoping to protect her family, Maria "retired" from squash in her teens, and spent three years playing the sport only indoors, on her own, and not competing or training in public.

But Maria's dream, though deferred, wasn't dead: enter Jonathon Power, the first North American to earn the title of top squash player in the world, and the only person to heed Maria's plea for help. Recognizing her determination and talent, Jonathon invited Maria to train and compete internationally in Canada. After years of living on the run from the Taliban, Maria packed up and left the only place she had ever known, settling half a world away in Toronto. With a documentary feature in the works, a foundation for women's rights and education in her name, and world championships in sight, Maria is an inspiration to women everywhere, and a champion in the face of nearly insurmountable odds.

Interested in booking Maria Toorpakai Wazir to speak at your next event?

Contact Hachette Speakers Bureau.


  • The Girl Who Hid From The Taliban in Plain Sight: The Maria Toorpakai Story
  • Human Rights in the Face of Extremism
  • Girls’ Education, Sports, and Overcoming Adversity

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