A Sikh boxer whose grandfather, dad and uncle were also in the sport is determined to carry on the legacy even further. Inder Bassi Singh, 25, from Ilford, became interested in the sport at a young age – he recalls his grandfather being one of the first South Asian boxers in the UK during the 1960s.
Although his grandad was not able to pursue the sport professionally, due to being the sole provider for his family, he had always encouraged his own children to partake in the sport. He was initially influenced by Muhammed Ali after seeing him as the only ethnic minority boxer, especially as boxing was not that popular in the South Asian community.
Inder lives with his grandparents and speaks fluent Punjabi, he has always maintained ties with his culture and roots. The East London based fighter represented England as an amateur and is racking up the wins with hopes of working towards a title. He’s popular as one of the first career boxers from the Sikh community that wears a dastaar.
Inder said: “My grandparents are from India, Punjab, my grandad was around 16 when he came over and he had to work. When my grandad was growing up he always liked Muhammed Ali and he started boxing though boxing isn’t really a Punjabi and Indian sport, they usually wrestle (Kabaddi).”My uncle and dad both then competed and won titles, my uncle was an amateur boxer and the London champion back in the 80s. My dad was a wrestler but they weren’t in a position to follow it further and had to work and pay bills.”
But fortunately, Inder was encouraged by his family to pursue the career and has now been boxing professionally for the last two years. As a member of the Sikh faith, Inder also campaigned against the beard ban which required amateur boxers to shave their beards for matches.
He said: “I was involved in overturning the beard rule – amateur boxers aren’t allowed any facial hair regardless of age and religion, so they’re all clean-shaven across the world. That’s against Sikh beliefs and although I didn’t need to shave when I was young, while I was getting older it did worry me. “Baptised Sikhs cannot shave their beard, so a few Sikhs got together to write to England boxing and asked them to overturn the rule. We got the legal team involved and I was a case study, because of myself and few other prominent Sikhs in England and Canada you can box with a beard.”