Muslim female boxing show set for Edinburgh Fringe

The show will take place at Sandy's Gym in Craigmillar. Picture: Contributed
The show will take place at Sandy's Gym in Craigmillar. Picture: Contributed
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A NEW show set in the world of women’s boxing will be staged inside a real ring in a housing estate gym during this year’s Fringe just weeks after the sport becomes part of the Commonwealth Games for the first time.

Two champion female boxers are working on the play, which will based on the experiences of young Asian Muslim women in Britain trying to forge a career in the sport.

The cast of five, aged 16-18, have been training for more than six months to prepare for the eight-day run at Sandy’s Boxing Gym, in Craigmillar, Edinburgh.

The facilities at the Cas­tleview Community Centre will be transformed into a “futuristic” boxing ring for the hour-long performance.

Around a third of the tickets for the show – titled No Guts, No Heart, No Glory – are being given away to people in the local community, while the cast and crew will also be doing “taster” workshops of both drama and boxing in Craigmillar during the show’s run.

Ambreen Sadiq, the boxing coach on the production, was Britain’s first female Muslim boxer and a national champion at 15.

One of the cast members is Saira Tabasum who won the British University Championships two years ago.

However the other cast members – Nayab Din, Freyaa Ali, Seherish Mahmood and Mariam Rashid – had no previous experience of boxing ­before rehearsals began.

The production has been developed by theatre company Common Wealth, which was highly commended in Amnesty’s International’s annual Fringe awards last year for a play staged in a disused house on the Wester Hailes estate, which tackled issues around domestic abuse.

The company’s new show will depict how female boxers in the UK have had to overcome traditional expectations of Muslim women as well as win the backing of their friends and families for their chosen career, and the punishing training regime it involves.

Evie Manning, the show’s ­director and producer, said: “Coming from Bradford, I’ve always been very aware of the diversity within the Asian community and of how often young Muslim women are represented as submissive and passive. We wanted to make something that would push the expectations of young Muslim women”.

Much of the show has been inspired by the story of Sadiq, who is hoping to represent Britain in the ring at the Olympics in Brazil in 2016.

She said: “I’ve been involved in coaching the actresses and offering insight and advice to the team based on my experience.

“An Asian girl or woman boxing is a huge thing in our culture especially when you are Pakistani and a Muslim, it’s seen as not very ladylike.”

Aisha Zia, the show’s writer, added: “No Guts, No Heart, No Glory is about ambition and belonging, but also fighting for the right to be heard.”

No Guts, No Heart, No Glory is at Sandy’s Boxing Gym in Craigmillar, Edinburgh, from 18-25 August.