‘Warrior’ Sikhs welcome England Boxing’s resolution to overturn beard ban

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An aspiring Sikh boxer has advised talkSPORT the abolition of a beard ban in newbie boxing permits his ‘warrior group’ to compete.

Earlier this week England Boxing introduced the rule change is being made “to fully embrace inclusivity in the sport”.

Facial hair is permitted within the skilled ranks however Karam Singh, 20, says that till now the regulation for amateurs has prevented Sikhs from pursuing a boxing profession.

“I am looking to go professional soon – in the next two or three years. I could have done so before, but it would have been very dangerous without any amateur experience.”

Mr Singh believes allowing newbie boxers to compete with beards opens the door to hundreds of aspiring fighters.

“We are a warrior community. We have fought world wars. We have got our own rich history. If I didn’t have boxing I would have no discipline. My faith and my boxing are the two biggest things for me and they go hand in hand.”

Karam’s expertise caught the attention of former British middleweight champion Wayne Elcock, who now trains him in Birmingham.

Mr Elcock advised talkSPORT: “He has definitely got natural ability and has a good chance of going very far, but obviously that was being stopped with the beard ban.”

He added that boxing might have been robbed of many world class fighters from spiritual communities over time. “God knows how many potential champions have been turned away. To see the potential of more and more people being able to take part in the sport is a massive push in the right direction.”

The beard ban was put right down to well being and security as England Boxing (beforehand the Novice Boxing Affiliation of England) felt facial hair might trigger issues. Potential hazard was recognized if a boxer’s beard entered an opponent’s eye or an open reduce. As well as it was feared reduce beneath facial hair can be harder to sew.

Till 2009 the beard ban included an exemption for Sikhs, permitting them to compete. Nonetheless, the exemption didn’t prolong to different spiritual teams and when a Muslim boxer from Bolton was stopped from competing he challenged the rule.

As an alternative of giving Mohammed Patel the fitting to struggle with a beard the ABAE eliminated the Sikh group’s exemption such that each faiths had been handled equally however the ban grew to become absolute.

Inayat Omarji from the Bolton Council of Mosques, advised talkSPORT : “They stated ‘either shave it off or you can’t struggle’. As a religious Muslim [Mohammed] walked away actually saddened and I do not assume he has come again to the game since.”

Mr Omarji recollects being indignant on the ABAE. “I would call it stubbornness. I just thought ‘they have not considered the up-and-coming boxers in the diverse communities of England’”.

He’s joyful at this week’s reversal: “This could potentially become a game changer, with someone within the Muslim community coming through the ranks and making it to the professional arena.”

Senior coach at Lions MMA, a Sikh fight sports activities organisation, agrees. “We sincerely respect England Boxing being accessible, open and trustworthy in dialogue of this difficulty. 

“Sports like boxing will naturally appeal to Sikhs, given the warrior aspect of the faith. Now, we can happily encourage Sikhs into boxing and we are sure the sport will also benefit from more Sikhs being involved.”

Many really feel the change is overdue. One motive is that skilled boxers are allowed to struggle with facial hair. One other is a perceived lack of knowledge with regards the hair itself.

Karam Singh defined: “A full beard is not rough like stubble because it’s not cut, so the hair is thinner. Olympic wrestling allows beards if there is several months’ growth.”

As Sikhs are inclined to have full beards it’s felt that the rule has been pointless.

England Boxing will formally elevate the ban on June 1.

Mr Singh stated: “If that is a Saturday I’ll be fighting on June 1st.”

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