Gifted gymnast gathers garbage, goes for life’s goal.


Top-ranked Egyptian athlete, Ali el Sharkawi, has found a unique way to scale the financial hurdles on his track to becoming a global weightlifter. Right in the city of Tanta, Gharbia, in Egypt, he takes full advantage of his day, gathering recyclable waste that translates to money – the much-needed resource for the advancement of his career; while at night, the 29-year-old resumes at the gym for vigorous training.


Sharkawi, a two-time bronze medalist at the Country’s national championships, like several other Egyptian sportspersons, has frequently raised concerns regarding finding funding for his career. To finance his career, and generally stay afloat life’s turbulent waters, Sharkawi started collecting garbage for which he gets paid.


Securing funding or external support has proven quite challenging for many Egyptian sportspersons engaged in various sports, but Sharkawi, though bearing some accolades and national recognition as a weightlifter, including two bronze medals at national championships, has launched out into the unconventional, he has resorted to a humble source of funds.



Using a horse-pulled cart, he collects recyclable wastes across Gharbia, his birthplace in Egypt’s Nile delta. This earns him up to two hundred Egyptian pounds, which is about $6.59 per day.


Pointing out that most of the available financial support goes to better-recognized sports like soccer, Sharkawi wishes for better funding options, even as he keeps seeking state support for his weightlifting career.


Despite the daunting confines of his training routine, he draws stimulation and motivation from the popular ‘Big Ramy’, a prominent Egyptian bodybuilder born Mamdouh Elssbiay, winner of the Mr Olympia title in both 2020 and 2021.


“He is seeking to participate in an international championship, but a bodybuilding career needs support and funding to provide nutrition”, the young athlete’s coach, Mostafa el-Tamimi, said, also mentioning that Sharkawi came to the limelight when he started training.

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