The University of Mumbai (MU) pulled out a Muslim student from a boxing competition because he refused to shave off his beard.
Sayyed Imran Ali is a national-level taekwondo and kick-boxing player and a second-year BCom student at GR Patil College in Mumbra. When he reached University Sports Pavilion in Marine Lines for his match last Monday, the university officials told him that he won’t be allowed to compete unless he shaves off his beard.
They cited a rule by International Amateur Boxing Association (AIBA), which prohibits beards and moustaches, body piercings and accessories during a bout.
“[Indian Boxing] Federation requires boxers to be clean-shaven before every match,” said Uttam Kendre, director, MU’s department of physical education and sports.
The federation follows the technical rules set by AIBA.
Imran Ali, a Mumbra resident who sports a goatee, said he was unaware of the rule as this was his first competitive boxing.
“I have been participating in kick-boxing, karate and taekwondo competitions at the state and the national level for the past seven years. My small beard was never an issue,” said the boxer, who runs a martial arts training centre in Mumbra.
Jay Kowli, general secretary of International Boxing Federation and former pugilist, said amateur boxers are bound by AIBA rules. “The rules are different for kick-boxing, taekwondo and boxing. If you don’t agree with the rules, you shouldn’t box.”
While amateur boxers are required to be clean-shaven, there is no such rule for professional boxing, governed by World Boxing Federation.