Sikh boxer hopes more can take up sport as beard ban ends

Boxer Inder Singh Bassi is set for his first bout where he is permitted to have a beard.

The Sikh previously had to shave off his facial hair prior to each of his fights as the boxing authorities banned beards, claiming they offered boxers greater protection and had the potential to hide cuts.

Due to the rules, many Sikhs were prohibited from boxing as their religious beliefs mean they cannot cut their hair as it is given to them by God.

Five-time London amateur champion, who will fight at the Alexandra Palace, told ITV London: "We walk around with a beard, a beard is part of who I am, it's a major part of my religion. And now I can finally box feeling normal."

The 21-year-old says that shaving before a match was 'never a choice [he] wanted to make but one [he] had to make'.

The ban on beards was lifted on June 1 and now Bassi hopes a new, young generation of Sikh boxers will be able to take up the sport.

"I know a lot of Sikh fighters who wanted to box but because of the beard rule, they chose another combat sport, such as kickboxing or another form of martial arts where they were allowed to keep their beard abd a kit if Sikh young fighters, who wanted to box, always say 'the reason we don't box is because we have to shave our beard'."