If you live on the planet earth, you may have recently heard about the movie Tiger, which makes it’s debut on November 30th, 2018. Tiger is based on the story of a real Sikh boxing champion, Pardeep Singh Nagra. Tiger stars fellow bearded Sikh, Prem Singh who has been dreaming of playing this role. Tiger is the story of true triumph in the face of obstacles, and it is the story of continuing resilience, no matter how difficult one’s circumstances may be.
Pardeep Singh Nagra was the Ontario flyweight amateur boxing champion in 1999, and he was on his way to nationals. Unfortunately, he would not be allowed to participate due to the fact that he, like most Sikh men, kept a beard. The officials for the national competition stated that it was not only against the rules, but also a safety hazard to have a beard in the ring. To this, Mr. Nagra had a sturdy response, pertaining to his religious beliefs as a Sikh man:
“For me, as a member of the Sikh faith, our hair — our Kesh — is part of our articles of faith. And it was not something I was going to be willing to compromise arbitrarily.”
After Mr. Nagra refused to shave, he became engaged in another form of battle: with the Canadian and Ontario amateur boxing associations. He filed a human rights case against Boxing Ontario, and was eventually allowed to compete provincially. However, at his official weigh-in during nationals, he was informed that he would be banned from fighting due to his beard. Mr. Nagra responded in true Sikh form, and refusing to give up on his beliefs, he simply left to call his coach and lawyer. Mr. Nagra’s lawyer eventually filed a successful motion to allow Sikhs to compete inside the ring with their Kesh, or facial hair. Internationally however, Mr. Nagra continues the fight for equality and inspires Sikhs and non-Sikhs alike to fight for their place in the world!