Play staged at gym brings Muslim girls into world of boxing

Some of the cast of No Guts, No Heart, No Glory

Some of the cast of No Guts, No Heart, No Glory

First published in Stage
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Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

BRADFORD’S Huggy’s Gym, where 2012 Olympic boxing champion Nicola Adams trained, is staging a play about Asian female boxers that won a Fringe First Award at the Edinburgh Festival.

Based on interviews with young Muslim female boxers No Guts, No Heart, No Glory explores assumptions and expectations held of young Muslim women.

The project, developed with CommonWealth’s professional creative team, is closely supported by the UK’s first Muslim female boxer, Ambreen Sadiq, who became National Champion at 16, on her second fight and is still only 19.

With electronic sound, magic, loud music and cinematic lighting, No Guts, No Heart, No Glory explores being young, fearless, and doing the unexpected.

The play also stars Saira Tabasum, former British University female boxing champion, also from Bradford, as herself, to ensure that the show features authentic boxing.

Director and Producer Evie Manning said: “Coming from Bradford I’ve always been very aware 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. 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.”

Writer Aisha Zia said: “Growing up it was really hard to work out what I wanted to do because I wasn’t sure what I was allowed to do. The world seemed like a lonely place at 16. I could see things that I wanted to be a part of but often felt like an outsider.

“I wanted to write a play that made young Muslim girls feel included, like they were on the inside and they were a part of something they created.

“No Guts, No Heart, No Glory is about ambition and belonging, but also fighting for the right to be heard. In this new world there are no expectations, and no prejudices and anything is possible.”

Boxing coach Ambreen Sadiq said: “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. I want to get the point across that boxing is not just for boys.”

CommonWealth makes site-specific theatre events that encompass electronic sound, new writing, visual design and verbatim text. Their work is political and contemporary, addressing the concerns of our times.

The play takes place at Huggy’s Gym, Spring Mill Street, off Manchester Road, from Tuesday until September 21 at 7.30pm or 8.30pm. There is also a 1pm Tuesday show for schools. Tickets from (01274) 233200.

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