January 16, (THEWILL) – The International Boxing Association (IBA) has officially lifted a ban on beards, allowing fighters to compete with facial hair.
Previously, fighters were required to be clean-shaven to ensure that cuts to the face were visible. The decision was made several months ago but has only just been officially changed in the rules. According to rule 220.127.116.11.2 of IBA Technical & Competitions Rules, “a boxer can have a beard and moustache, but either must not cover the neck and must not be longer than 10cms.”
The move follows campaigns by several religious groups, including Sikh and Muslim groups, who had been lobbying for the rule change at the international level. Maintaining uncut hair all over their bodies is one of the five articles of faith for Sikhs, both men and women. The Quran does not prescribe beards for Muslims, but many followers feel it is important to be bearded due to the Prophet Muhammad’s example.
Boxers have welcomed the change, with many citing comfort and cultural or religious reasons as factors. However, it is not clear whether the rule change will take effect for next year’s Olympic Games in Paris. The IBA is currently banned from running the tournament by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) due to concerns over its governance under Russian Umar Kremlev.
The IOC has appointed a special task force to organise and run the event in Paris 2024, and they will be responsible for deciding which rules will be applied.