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Change Maker: Beverly Aisha Roach - Changing Lives Through Combat Sports

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

Meet the Diesel Diva. She is not ordinary.


By Karl R. De Mesa

Originally published on Mantle Magazine -

“This is where we hope to inspire and motivate kids and teens to be the best version of themselves as role models and leaders,” said Ahmad, having since retired from fighting and now an executive at the same league where once he donned four ounce-gloves.

“Some come from poor but stable homes, and too many others have lives more like a stray animal than someone’s child.”

Ubiquitous and emblazoned on a tarp all along one wall of Shaheen MMA is the double D logo of the Diesel Diva brand in black and red.

Beverly Roach is the founder of the Diesel Diva brand. An amalgam of sports management philanthropy, sports gear and apparel, and a philosophical ethos, it carries the motto and the message of “Peace Through Sports.”

In the fighting and mixed martial arts community, Roach’s Diesel Diva brand has sponsored many up-and-coming fighters, as well as dojos and gyms. This “Peace Through Sports” message has also been endorsed by MMA superstars like the UFC’s Thiago “Sledgehammer” Santos, ONE Championship’s Adriano Moraes, and Bellator MMA’s Cristiane “Cyborg” Justino. She’s also occasionally stepped out of the combat sports world to help out players in basketball (Beyond Hoops Africa with James Kamau) and a hijabi powerlifter.

A big part of Diesel Diva’s philanthropy is the sponsorship and development of martial arts dojos specifically in impoverished areas. And Shaheen MMA is one of those gyms.

“I try to help them out as much as I can because I really believe it’s a place where the kids can go,” she continued. “They are off the streets. They’re learning teamwork. They’re learning professionalism. They’re learning conflict resolution and typically, they’re learning work ethic. There’s so many good things that happen at that gym.”

Now 62 years old, Roach is a former captain in the Canadian military and has been deployed in some pretty bad places. At conflict zones like Afghanistan, Sudan, Iran, and the former West Germany, she’s been at the frontline of what academics might term, in a catchy turn of phrase, as women in non-traditional roles.

Fighting and martial arts has been her life and, after her career as a soldier, she left the service for a new calling as a security consultant for various organizations, all the while keeping her skills sharp by practicing martial arts and training at local gyms wherever she went. As a certified instructor for the Gracie Women Empowered program and the Street Smart program (designed out of Cape Town, South Africa) she’s also a go-to name for women’s security and self-defense seminars all over Europe and Asia.

She graduated at the Royal Military College of Canada with honors, then took up a Masters of Science in Security Management from the American Military University. After her years of service, one of her first jobs out of it was as a security specialist in Kabul, Afghanistan.

As a veteran, her experiences in conflict and in combat support roles had allowed her the kind of experience very few might possess in their lives. And that goes even for her fellow soldiers and security operators.

“It actually made my job easier. Usually, my Afghan counterparts, whether it was police or military, they were curious about this woman who was a security advisor. And then they would meet me and then they’d find out I was legit. I was able to speak their language in professional security. I was in the army for this many years so I know everything. The point was by treating people respectfully and respecting their life experience, their cultural experience, and understanding that their journey is different, I’m able to maneuver and navigate through those things.”

“I would get invited to their home and meet their wives, their daughters, their sisters,” narrated Roach. One of my male counterparts never could do that. They would never be in their home. They might be invited to their home but they would never meet their family. But since I’m a woman I could meet everybody! So, meeting the family engenders a level of trust that’s different.”

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