Newsbytheway's Blog

January 14, 2010

Boxing the beard ban

Filed under: Religion,Sports — Rabea Khan @ 5:52 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Muslim and Sikhs amateur boxers are all set for a fight. But, this fight will be outside the ring and against the body that represents them.

Copyright: Elmarto; Source: Flickr

The Amateur Boxing Association of England (ABAE) has recently ruled that all boxers need to be clean shaved. Their reason: it’s for the health and safety of the boxers. The ban is the outcome of appeal filed by a Muslim boxer last  year. He was stopped from playing even though Sikhs were allowed to have facial hair.

There is little logic in the association’s newfound allergy to facial hair as beards are allowed in the professional ring.

And most important question is why now? If the beard was harmful they should have been banned from the beginning. Why it took a Muslim to make them realize that beards are unsafe? It casts a shadow over intentions of the association. Is it their way of keeping ‘radical muslim’ away from the game?

Majority of the sports in the world have no issues with facial hairs. But there have been few exceptions.

Talking baseball, till 1999  Cincinnati Reds had a ban on any kind of facial hair. Rules changed with change of ownership.  Greg Vaughn loved his goatee and persuaded the new owner Marge Schott to remove the ban.

New York Yankees baseball team also prohibits long hair and facial hair.

In Irish football, there is ban on growing more than two inches of facial hair. This was the outcome of an ugly fight between the two players when one pulled the other down by his beard.

These rules and decisions are fair and acceptable since they do not have any religions undertones. They are been enforced for the sake of practicality and discipline. It wasn’t a Muslim on the field that instigated the a ban.

Players love of beards

It is sort of a tradition in certain sports where players allow their beards to grow from the beginning of the playoff season and they don’t touch the shavers until the playoffs are over. One such example is National Hockey League where teams that follows the supersition of playoff beards religiously.

Source: picapp

Many other sportsmen also shun their shavers for the sake of style. Beard was a rage in 2007 rugby world cup. English playerGeorge Chute made headlines and the French player, Sebastien Chabal, was even nicknamed ‘caveman’ when they sported beards.

When Beckham grew a beard last year it became talk of the town. Many made fun of his latest style statement. But words like ‘ban’ and ‘safety’ were not mentioned at all.

And Cricket has Monty Panesar, Saeed Anwar, Hashim Amla and many others who have a beard for religious reasons.

So why when a Muslim boxer sports a beard, it suddenly becomes a contentious issue. It is time to look beyond religious identities and let the deserving player play the game. We can keep religion out of sports at least.

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