Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Fight for your rights: The cultural battle faced by Asian female boxers

Image caption The play hopes to inspire young sportswomen from Muslim and non-Muslim communities

It is one of the punchiest shows on the Edinburgh Fringe. No Guts, No Heart, No Glory is about young Asian women in the male-dominated world of boxing. BBC Scotland arts correspondent Pauline McLean spoke to the people behind the show.

The gloves are off in this hard-hitting drama about women's boxing.

It is inspired in part by the success of Britain's first female Muslim boxer, Ambreen Sadiq, who became a national champion at the age of just 15.

Ambreen has been coaching the five young women who appear in the show.

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

"I box but also coach other young boxers though I never imagined I'd be asked to coach actresses for a play.

"An Asian girl or woman boxing is a huge thing in our culture especially when you are Pakistani and a Muslim.

"I want to get the point across that boxing is not just for boys. I want to inspire girls from all backgrounds to do what they dream of doing whether that's boxing or not."

'Drop your guard'

One of the cast members, Nayab Din, admitted it was more than just a culture shock when she first stepped into a boxing ring.

Nayab said : "At first, there's so much footwork and handwork that you have to learn because you can't drop your guard.

"When you drop your guard, that's your weakest point and your opponent can get you and you don't want that.

"Learning that takes a few weeks but you get there in the end."

In fact, the cast have been training for the best part of six months, and the physical challenges aren't the only ones they face.

Boxing remains a male-dominated sport, and even tougher for Muslim women.

Cast member Freya Ali knows many members of the Muslim community believe the sport is "unladylike".

Image caption The cast had no boxing training before they started work on the play

She said: "It is difficult in sport, especially in boxing, because you have to wear shorts.

"And you don't wear a t-shirt, you normally just wear a vest and I think that is a big factor in them not doing the sport.

"I think it is just about encouraging them."

But it's hoped the show's message of confidence will inspire all women.

It is being staged in a real gym in the Craigmillar area of Edinburgh where Jeannie Robertson Frazer is secretary of the local boxing club.

Jeannie said: "When you do amateur boxing, you have to very carefully match boxers in age and weight and experience, so it can be very difficult to get started.

"I just think the more people there are in there, the more opportunities there are to find someone to compete with."

The show is also reaching a brand new audience on the fringe of the Fringe.

Craigmillar has provided them with a community centre and a gym in which to perform.

In return, they get free tickets for the show - and director Evie Malin is happy with the arrangement.

Something different

She said: "We're not actually that bothered about a Fringe audience, we're not that kind of theatre company.

"We're much more interested in people who might not have been to the theatre before.

"So Craigmillar really appeals to us because you might not have a massive theatre-going community here like you have in the centre of town, but people are still up for something different.

"It's better to bring something to Craigmillar than think people are going to have to go into town and pay festival prices."

Evie is conscious of the sense of responsibility that comes with producing something like No Guts, No Heart, No Glory.

She 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 from within both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities.

"We started interviewing Muslim female boxers and were struck by their determination and passion for the sport, at how they had said 'I will be who I want to be and do what I want to do' and we thought this was a powerful message that spoke to all young women and young men."

No Guts, No Heart, No Glory runs at Sandy's Boxing Gym in Craigmillar until 25 August, before moving to gyms in Bradford and Manchester.

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